Friday Happy Hour: Vanilla Punch

With soaring summer temperatures, we all want a nice cold drink to help cool us down.  Punch, for centuries the most popular way of drinking, was probably brought back from India and adapted by English sailors as far back as the 1500s.  No one knows for sure, but it’s a good bet the word Punch comes from the Hindi punch, or five, for the five ingredients of a real Punch: spirits, spice, sugar, citrus, and water.  Most of us think of fruit and citrus flavors when we hear the word punch, but this cocktail is a slightly more exotic take that combines Brandy with vanilla syrup.  Punch has sadly long fallen out of favor, but maybe trying this delicious Vanilla Punch will inspire you to bring it back.  – Andrew

Cocktail Recipe Vanilla Punch 6 550x440 Friday Happy Hour: Vanilla Punch

Read below for the full recipe!

Vanilla Punch

2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Vanilla Syrup

Grab two tumblers; fill one with lots of crushed ice and leave the other empty.  Add all of the ingredients to the ice-filled glass, then pour the whole mix back and forth between the two tumblers a few times.  (Alternatively, you can also use a shaker and pour the whole contents, broken-up ice and all, into a tumbler, but you won’t get nicely crushed ice this way).  Garnish with a lemon slice or two and enjoy!

Cocktail Recipe Vanilla Punch 19 300x375 Friday Happy Hour: Vanilla Punch Cocktail Recipe Vanilla Punch 5 300x375 Friday Happy Hour: Vanilla Punch

This is a very simple but surprisingly tasty recipe from the mid-1800s, sweet and tart, rich from the smooth, oaky Brandy and the spicy vanilla from the syrup. The original recipe calls for using vanilla extract, but I love the bold, somewhat exotic flavors of using real vanilla bean to make my syrup.

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To make Vanilla Syrup, bring two cups of water close to a boil in a sauce pan, then remove from the heat and stir in two cups of sugar (use a turbinado or other raw sugar).  Put the syrup back on low heat and add in a vanilla bean split lengthwise.  Let this simmer for a good long while, stirring frequently, at least until it has reduced by a quarter, to extract all that vanilla flavor.  Strain out the bean debris, pour the syrup into a bottle, and let it cool.

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You can crush ice in a blender, but the best way is probably to use a Lewis Bag and a hammer or a mallet.  A Lewis Bag is basically a heavy-duty cotton sack that soaks up the extra water as you crush ice; you can buy one online or do what I did, cut off the leg of an old pair of jeans and sew up one end.  Fill it up with ice, put it on a sturdy surface, and take out all your frustrations bashing that ice to smithereens.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

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