Fall Spice Apple Brandy Punch

Sliced Fruit for Fall Spice Apple Brandy Punch

Of all the things that are great about the fall (and there are so many), the beginning of the holiday season and all the food and drink that is to be had certainly tops my list. One of our fall rituals is our annual block party/pig roast. We have a potluck afternoon buffet and it is a great opportunity to pull out my fall spices and fruit to make a crowd-pleasing alcoholic punch. This year, I had pears, apples, citrus, apple cider, cinnamon and a newly-made cranberry shrub to work with. I wanted to make something like a sangria, with the lovely pieces of fresh fruit, but using a stronger liquor instead of wine. So, I used Laird’s Apple Brandy and Rye as my alcohol base to make a Fall Spice Apple Brandy Punch. It was a big hit!

Even if it’s just a chance to pull out your mother’s punch bowl, party punches are a great way to make a batch of drinks ahead of time so that you are not stuck behind the bar mixing cocktails all night. You can make a punch early in the day, which gives it time for all the spice and fruit flavors to really come out…and helps you manage your party-planning time.

Cranberry shrub and Cinnamon syrup

For this recipe, you will need to do a couple of things ahead of time – the cranberry shrub and the cinnamon syrup. I would suggest doing this early in the week and having it ready to go in the fridge the day of the party.

Cinnamon Syrup recipe

If you haven’t done so yet, early in the day, make your cinnamon syrup. In a saucepan, add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 cinnamon sticks. On a medium low heat, bring the water and sugar up to a gentle simmer. As soon as the sugar melts, cut the heat and let it cool. Place into an airtight container and refrigerate until use. 

Cranberry Shrub

Last week, I wrote an extensive post on how to make your own fruit shrub syrup. A shrub is basically fresh seasonal fruit and spices, macerating in a simple syrup with vinegar. The fruit and spices impart their flavors and color into the vinegar/sugar syrup, making a sweet and sour mixer to add to your cocktails or non-alcoholic drinks. You can go here to get the recipe for Cranberry Shrub.

A glass of Cranberry Shrub

A glass of Cranberry Shrub

Fall Spice Apple Brandy Punch

1 cup Apple Brandy (Laird’s)
1 1/2 cups rye whiskey
1 cup Cranberry Shrub (or, substitute 1/2 cup cranberry juice & 1/2 cup simple syrup)
1/4 cup cinnamon syrup (1/2 cup sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
1 cup fresh apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon cloves
5 whole star anise
1 pear, 1 apple and 1 orange
1 medium size pitcher or punch bowl

Slicing pears for Fall Spice Apple Cranberry Punch

Slicing pears for Fall Spice Apple Cranberry Punch

Juice your lemons until you have 1/2 cup of juice. Place juice into your pitcher. Slice your pear, apple and orange into thin slices or small chunks, whichever you prefer. Place the slices into the pitcher with the lemon juice. Stir to coat the fruit with the lemon juice to prevent the fruit slices from browning.

Laird's Apple Brandy & Cranberry Shrub

Laird’s Apple Brandy & Cranberry Shrub for Fall Spice Apple Brandy Punch

Measure out and add the rest of the ingredients: Apple Brandy, Rye, cranberry shrub, apple cider, cinnamon syrup and spices. Mix and taste. If it is too alcoholic or too tart, add more cider or more cinnamon syrup. Place the pitcher into the fridge to chill and let the flavors come together.

Serve cold in highball glasses with ice or straight up. Be sure and add pieces of fruit to each glass for the full, beautiful fall fruit effect. You can also serve in a taller glass and add club soda or sparkling water if you want to lighten the mix.  Cheers!

A Pitcher of Fall Spice Apple Cranberry Punch

A Pitcher of Fall Spice Apple Cranberry Punch

 

Fall Spice Apple BrandyPunch

Fall Spice Apple BrandyPunch

 

How to make a shrub syrup

Cranberry Shrub Syrup

If you are into making cocktails at home, you have probably tried and mastered some of the classics-the Margarita, the Martini, the Manhattan. But if you’ve stretched your mixology skills beyond that, you’ve, no doubt, played around with various mixers to add depth and flavor to your cocktail creations. Luckily, there is now an amazing variety of fruit and spice-infused syrups, bitters and shrubs that can be found at any good liquor store or specialty food shop. What is a shrub, you say? Am I referring to a leafy bush? No. A shrub is a fruit-infused vinegar syrup. You may think adding vinegar to any drink would be odd, but the complex, fruity acidity of a shrub syrup adds a brightness and depth that is surprising and very pleasing.

Continue reading »

Baja-Style Fried Catfish Tacos with Slaw

Baja-Style Fried Catfish Tacos

Baja-style fish tacos have become increasingly popular over the last 10-15 years. The grilled fish wrapped in tortillas make a great summer dinner. When it’s cold out and the hubby isn’t too keen on getting outside to grill, we make a Southern version – Baja-Style Fried Catfish Tacos with slaw.

Continue reading »

Tangerine Drop Martini

Tangerine Drop Martini

Mid-winter brings a more monotonous selection in the produce aisle but a bounteous variety in the citrus section. While the fresh berries and melons of summer have faded into memory, the market is piled high with oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes. Even though varieties of the fruit can be found throughout the year, some citrus is only available in the winter – blood orange, pommelos, Meyer lemons and tangerines. It’s the perfect time of year to add these bright flavors to a cocktail. This week, I’m making a Tangerine Drop Martini. 

Continue reading »

Halloween Cocktail – The Corpse Reviver No. 2

Corpse Reviver No.2

The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is the perfect Halloween cocktail. Or maybe, like it’s original intent, it is the perfect AFTER-Halloween cocktail, when you need a bit of “the hair of the dog” to revive you. In fact, it used to be served as a “breakfast cocktail” to cure you after a night of debauchery.

Even though I said that I was putting my gin away until warm weather returns, this gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and absinthe cocktail is really delicious AND has the creepy name to commemorate either Hallow’s Eve or The Day of the Dead. 

Continue reading »

Italian Pickled Eggplant

Pickled Eggplant

In Italy, late afternoon is the time for apertivo, a kind of happy hour with cocktails and snacks. Apertivo cocktails can be as simple as a beer or a glass of wine, or a traditional aperitif, such as Campari or Aperol Spritz. As for the snacks, they can be almost like a small meal. When we were in Fano, Italy recently, our apertivo came with olives, roasted peppers, tomatoes and mozzerella cheese, nuts, focaccia and pickled eggplant – a huge spread! I’ve had plenty of marinated or roasted eggplant before, but this was a tangy, raw eggplant pickle. When I came home, I knew that I had to try to make pickled eggplant myself.

Apertivo nibbles

Apertivo nibbles – roasted peppers, focaccia, pickled eggplant, tomatoes and mozzarella, olives and chips.

Continue reading »

Muscadine cocktail – using wild grapes for a fall cocktail

Muscadine Cocktail with boiled peanuts

 If you live in the South, you have probably have had your share of muscadines and scuppernongs, our native wild grape. In Georgia, a walk through the woods in late summer and early fall will usually yield at least a handful of the Southern wild grapes to enjoy. You can often find them along the ground, where they’ve fallen from their high perch in the trees.  I usually eat them where I find them, but sometimes we’re lucky enough to come upon low-hanging vines that make picking a couple of pints an easy chore. They are fragrant, juicy and sweet. Like pears or apples, the muscadine signals Fall in the South. They are my inspiration this week for a Southern Fall Muscadine Cocktail.

Continue reading »

Multi-Colored Ham Vegetable Quiche

Multi-colored Ham & Vegetable Quiche

If it’s been a while since I’ve been to the market for groceries, it can be challenging to come up with dinner. If I dig around in my fridge, most of the time I have eggs, cream, vegetables, cold cuts and cheese. I can turn those ingredients into sandwiches or a pasta dish, or a version of “breakfast for dinner”. With the addition of a pie crust, I can turn all of that into a quiche. Using a beautiful, multi-colored rolled vegetable tart on Pinterest as inspiration, I decided to try my hand at a wrapped ham vegetable quiche. I think that my results aren’t nearly as tidy as the one on the French site, but I was happy with my results. By wrapping all my ingredients from the center out, the simple Ham Vegetable Quiche became a savory, rainbow-colored dish ready for dinner or a party buffet. 

Continue reading »

Retro 1950’s Cocktail – The Moscow Mule

Entertaining friends for the season premiere of “Mad Men” sent me looking for retro cocktails of the 1950’s and 1960’s to serve.  Looking through cocktail guides from that time, one drink that kept popping up was The Moscow Mule.  A snappy blend of vodka, lime juice and ginger beer always served in a copper mug, it’s not really a cocktail that you see much of anymore. But during Don Draper’s time, it was very popular.

Continue reading »

The Algonquin Cocktail

Algonquin Cocktail

Winter is refusing to leave Atlanta on-schedule this year. With a bit of nip still in the air at night, it makes me want to linger a bit longer in the “brown liquor” season. The Tom Collins and Mojitos will have to wait a few more weeks, I guess. In the meantime, here’s a yummy rye drink to hold us over… The Algonquin Cocktail.

  Continue reading »