This champagne punch is like an effervescent winter sangría. Start by marinating sliced pears in a sweet spiced syrup, brandy, orange liqueur, and lemon juice, then add blood orange slices, kumquats, and champagne when you’re ready to serve. This light punch is not too boozy and is fabulous for a Christmas or New Year’s cocktail party.
What to buy: If you can’t find kumquats, slice and add a second blood orange instead.
Game plan: The spiced syrup can be made and refrigerated in a container with a tightfitting lid for up to 2 weeks.
For the spiced syrup:
2star anise pods
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced (no need to peel)
1/2vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved
For the punch:
2 medium pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or triple sec
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 medium lemon)
2 (750-milliliter) bottleschampagne or dry sparkling wine
1Place the cloves, anise, and allspice in a small saucepan and toast over medium-high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
2Add the sugar, water, ginger, and vanilla seeds, whisk to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the flavors have combined, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
3Pour the spiced syrup through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium heatproof bowl and discard the contents of the strainer. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
For the punch:
1Add the pears, brandy, orange liqueur, and lemon juice to the cooled syrup and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Meanwhile, chill the champagne or sparkling wine.
2When ready to serve, place the ice block in a 4-quart punch bowl. Pour the spiced syrup–pear mixture over the ice block. Add the blood orange and kumquat slices, if using. Gently stir in the champagne or sparkling wine (do not overmix or your punch will be flat) and serve immediately.