For years I’d toil over one of those thousand-ingredient, tea + booze + Champagne + over-complicated simple syrup + aromatics punch recipes every time I’d whip out my trusty punch bowl. But it recently dawned on me: Punch is just a giant bowl of cocktail. Which means if I pick something I like that’s simple to make in a single serving, I can easily scale up and add a festive ice ring to make it bowl-worthy.
This year I landed on the Negroni Sbagliato, a fizzy, ever-so-slightly lighter version of my favorite gin cocktail. While the original is 1:1:1 gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, the Negroni Sbagliato—that means “mistaken” in Italian for all you linguists…apparently the birth of this delicious drink was an accident—keeps the ratios the same but swaps the gin for Prosecco or another bubbly.
Since everything is added in equal amounts, you don’t have to do any math at all come punch time. Just add one bottle each Prosecco, sweet vermouth, and Campari, and give everything a gentle stir. If you like a lighter drink, or want to stretch your punch longer throughout the evening, I suggest doubling up on the bubbly or topping off the bowl with plain seltzer; to be totally honest, I actually *prefer* the taste with double the bubbles.
And a quick note on that ice ring: You’re going to want to make more than one. (Two or three should suffice for refreshing your punch throughout the party.) If you’re a planner, start a week or so ahead and use your Bundt pan to make a new ice mold each night until you have the number you want. Don’t have that much time? Get creative with your molds so you can make them all at once—there’s no reason you have to use a Bundt. I’ve used everything from small mixing bowls to cake pans.
You can also get creative with what you’re adding to your ice mold: Any fruits, herbs, or whole spices are fair game. For this particular punch, I’m a fan of combining sliced orange rounds, whole fresh cranberries, rosemary sprigs, and star anise because it looks so colorful and festive. I layer them into the mold before adding the water, keeping in mind the cranberries will try their best to float to the top (sometimes I try to trap them in place with the oranges, but you do you). If you don’t have any of that stuff on hand or don’t feel like bothering, plain old ice works too! And one last tip: To get the clearest ice possible, use distilled water (it has less mineral content). Some people say to boil it twice first too (this helps minimize those cloudy air bubbles) but in my humble opinion, that’s a lot of effort for something nobody but me will notice.
Ingredients2 oranges, sliced into thin rounds
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
10-15 small rosemary sprigs
9 whole star anise
1-2 (750 ml) bottles Prosecco or other dry sparkling wine
1 (750 ml) bottle Campari
1 (750 ml) bottle sweet vermouth (I like Carpano Antica, but Martini Rosso will make your finished punch a more brilliant red color)
1 bottle seltzer (optional)