Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Champagne Punch

Champagne is to New Year’s Eve as turkey is to Thanksgiving, but party hosts who plan to pop bottles should bear some things in mind:

  • Safety first, people. Champagne corks can come out at 50 m.p.h.; nothing dampens a party like putting an eye out.
  • Some of your guests probably won’t like champagne – at least, not on its own. If this makes you question why you’re friends with them in the first place, we aren’t here to judge. Just keep that thought to yourself and, as a good host, provide an alternative beverage.
  • Keeping the bubbly flowing for a big party will be pricey – particularly if you’re buying decent bottles. Start the new year with a bang, not with sticker shock.

Solution: champagne punch! It’s unlikely to cause ocular damage to anyone at the party. It’s (obviously) a champagne drink, in keeping with New Year’s Eve tradition, but it’s sweet enough to please those heathens your treasured guests who find champagne alone to be too dry. And it’s economical, because the mixers are inexpensive and because you can get away with using budget bubbly. Plus, it’s colorful, festive and a little fizzy, which is perfect for parties. Here’s our favorite recipe:

  • 2 cans (12 fluid ounces) frozen cranberry juice concentrate
  • 2 cans (12 fluid ounces) frozen pink lemonade concentrate
  • 2 cans (6 ounces) frozen limeade concentrate
  • 2 bottles (750 milliliter) Riesling, chilled
  • 2 liters ginger ale, chilled
  • 4 bottles (750 milliliter) champagne, chilled
  • 12 ounces blackberries (optional, for garnish)
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves (optional, for garnish)

Preparation is easy: Mix all of the juice concentrate, Riesling (or other white wine), champagne and ginger ale (or club soda, if you prefer something less sweet) in a big punch bowl. Garnish with blackberries and mint leaves, if you’re so inclined. Serve cold – and keep it cold, ideally by making an ice ring.

Ice rings are also pretty simple; you’ll just need some additional limeade (or ginger ale, or club soda) and garnish. Place some blackberries and/or mint in a bundt pan. Add enough limeade/ginger ale/club soda to cover whatever you’ve placed in the pan, but not enough to make the contents float. When that is frozen, fill the rest of the pan with more limeade (or soda) and re-freeze. Before you’re ready to serve the punch, take the pan out of the freezer and let it thaw for 15-20 minutes. Then slide it out of the pan and put it in the punch bowl, rounded side up.

If you don’t want to make an ice ring, another option is to make ice cubes out of limeade or soda. That way, the punch won’t get watery as the cubes melt.

– Matt Rehm