Whip up this meringue-topped citrus punch for a festive party

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Winter sun punch

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

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With the turn of the calendar in December, we’re fully into the holiday season, an ideally joyous, but perpetually stressful time of year when social calendars tend to go crazy and mall parking lots turn into a smash fight. mixed martial arts, while our rejuvenating intake of warmth and daylight dwindles and dwindles, darkening our moods and robbing us of our much-needed vitamin D intake.

Now is not the time for a cocktail DJ to keep up with requests and make each guest a bespoke drink. A crowd-pleasing punch is your most reliable winter winger. This time of year, if we’re having people over, I either set up a DIY bar for the guests to manage their lubrication, or I do a fist bump.

The punch I wanted this year was something that would express – both visually and in flavor – that moment that is – listen! — just on the horizon: the winter solstice. Chill season here in the Northern Hemisphere is also the time when, cold as it is, we begin to ascend towards longer, sunnier days. I wanted a punch that would taste like a break in the clouds when the sun comes up.

I ended up with a slightly more complex cousin of a Punch Romaine, an old recipe from famous French chef Auguste Escoffier. This original rum and citrus concoction, served as a drizzled sorbet, is best known for being part of the extravagant, multi-course dinner served to first-class passengers aboard the Titanic the night it sank, a palate cleanser between Parmentier potatoes and iceberg.

This version is more gin-based, with a spectrum of citrus – fresh juice and neon orange Aperol, a bittersweet Italian orange liqueur – and floral, spicy Benedictine notes. These liqueurs not only add sweetness, but more flavor complexity to the punch, which you lengthen by adding a bottle of dry sparkling wine to add bubbles and keep the sweetness in check.

Once you have the punch in a bowl and ready, to get an edible substitute for those clouds for your sunny orange punch to get through, you top the bowl with a batch of meringue float (using egg whites). eggs if you’re comfortable with them, aquafaba if you’re not) flavored with vanilla and Angostura bitters.

The moss serves as an ornament, but it’s also a soft bed for complementary toppings, such as citrus slices and fresh herbs and spices.

You want your filling to retain some shape, but still be a swirling, creamy meringue that can be dolloped into curled swirls and spread across the surface of the punch, where you can use it as a blank page for the fillings. Whatever you put on top of the meringue should be something you’d be happy to flavor the punch if it goes down. Think sage, rosemary, thyme, not cilantro or overly bitter greens. Choose spices that contrast nicely with your citrus fruits, liqueur and gin: juniper, allspice, cloves, star anise cloves, grated nutmeg and cinnamon. And, of course, thinly sliced ​​citrus rings for color and aroma.

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The level of detail you want to achieve probably depends on how confident you are in your artistic skills. I got the best results when I treated the toppings as a kind of bouquet that “grows” from one edge of the punch bowl or as a crown that hugs its inside edge.

This punch makes a great appetizer, but if you want to delve into the history of the Roman Punch, you could join the many who have attempted to recreate dishes from that last first-class meal served on the Titanic (much less I guess , attempted to concoct the oatmeal and “cabin biscuits” offered to third-class passengers). If you wish, you can instead present it as a slush interlude during a meal: Arrange cocktail glasses or sorbet glasses, with a spoonful of lemon or orange sorbet and crushed ice in each, then pour the punch and meringue on top and serve with a dessert spoon, bringing the drink closer to the sorbet-style presentation the Scions would have enjoyed at their table.

For a festive holiday bowl, this Citrus Pomegranate Punch brings the cheer

Such a presentation adds lacquer to an already golden lily. And you could argue that sticking to just presenting the punch as it is comes a lot closer to the realities of this night anyway. With the meringue and toppings fading all over the place, it’s certainly just as chic, and much more in keeping with a happy solstice spirit.

For the gin, you can use a standard London dry style or something more lemony; we used a combination of regular Tanqueray and Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla, its orange flavored iteration. Use a sparkling white or rosé wine of the brut type. The meringue topping is optional – the punch is delicious without it – but the topping ups the fancy factor and provides a soft landing for the toppings, as well as “clouds” for the sunny punch to shine through.

If you’d rather not use raw eggs, you can make a fluffy filling with aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Replace 3 egg whites with 6 tbsp aquafaba, add 1/8 tsp cream of tartar, then follow recipe directions, but extend whipping time to about 10 minutes. To obtain the aquafaba, shake the can of beans, then open and strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. You should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup. Unused aquafaba can be frozen for future use.

If you wish to serve the drink in a more boiled form, you can also prepare the punch a day in advance and freeze it (in jars or bottles) overnight, transferring it to the refrigerator half an hour before serving and shaking it when you move. in the punch bowl.

get ahead: The ice in the punch bowl will need to be frozen the day before you plan to serve the punch. The punch can be prepared, without the meringue topping, and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance.

Storage: Refrigerate punch base, without meringue, for up to 2 days.

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  • 3 cups of gin (see main note)
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice (from about 6 oranges)
  • 1 cup fresh blood orange juice (from about 4 blood oranges)
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3/4 cup Benedictine
  • 1/2 cup Aperol
  • 1/4 teaspoon Angostura bitters
  • One bottle (750 milliliters) of chilled brut-style sparkling wine, such as champagne, prosecco, or cava

For the meringue topping (optional)

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 4 drops vanilla extract
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • Citrus wheels, star anise, allspice berries, rosemary sprigs, sage and/or thyme, for garnish (optional)

Prepare the ice block: The day before serving the punch, fill a bowl of cereal or a food storage container with water and place it in the freezer.

Prepare the punch base: In a large bowl, combine the gin, orange, blood orange and lemon juices, water, Benedictine, Aperol and bitters until smooth. combined. Refrigerate or freeze (see main note) until ready to serve.

Prepare the meringue filling: when you are almost ready to serve the punch, in a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, lemon juice, bitters and vanilla and, using a mixer by hand on medium speed, beat until fluffy and thickened, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, add the icing sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. The meringue shouldn’t be quite at the soft peak stage; the filling should be glossy and move like thick soup when you stir it. (See note for making meringue with aquafaba instead of egg whites.)

Add the ice block to your punch bowl, then pour the chilled punch base over it. Slowly pour in the sparkling wine and stir gently.

Pour the whipped meringue over the punch, if using, gently spreading it over the surface like a cloud cover, then garnish with the citrus slices, herbs and spices. Serve dipping in a swirling motion so some of the meringue filling ends up in each cup.

Calories: 149; Total fat: 0 g; Saturated fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: mg; Sodium: 1mg; Carbohydrates: 8g; Dietary fiber: 0g; Sugar: 6g; Protein: 0g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

From Spirits columnist M. Carrie Allan.

Tested by Allan; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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