Want to clink glasses with a winter-worthy punch? Get your gang round, grab some quality gin and share a batch of chef Warren Mendes’ Winter Moscato Punch.
A wine-based punch is one of the easiest batch cocktails you can whip up when you’re entertaining friends on the weekend – and there are plenty of ways to change it up from that Mediterranean summer sipper, sangria. When we asked our entertaining expert Warren Mendes how he would makeover the classic punch for winter, the result was this recipe built around the bright, floral flavours of moscato, an Italian wine style that’s sweeter and lighter in alcohol than your usual sparkling wine. To add to the cosy winter vibes, this punch also includes zesty orange and cranberry, plus an infusion of warming spices.
“Punch is a retro classic, but you don’t have to stick to Grandma’s recipe,” says Warren. “I love big batch cocktails for entertaining a crowd – they’re easy to prep and serve, and look impressive sitting on the bench when your friends come over. This winter punch uses moscato, which is quite sweet on its own, but when combined with gin and cranberry juice, makes a perfectly balanced winter cocktail with a little fizz for fun.”
Ingredients (Makes 2L; Serves 4-6)
500mL cranberry juice
1 orange, zested, juiced
2 cinnamon sticks or quills
4cm piece ginger, sliced
2 whole star anise
750mL bottle Belena Moscato
200mL Bombay Sapphire Gin
2 cups ice cubes
150g frozen raspberries, crushed
Orange slices, to serve
Punch is a staple drink when entertaining all over the world, with different countries having their own traditions and flavour combinations. In Germany, there’s Feuerzangenbowle or ‘Fire Tongs Punch’, which gets its name from the use of flaming overproof rum poured over a Zuckerhut or sugarloaf. In England, punch known as ‘cups’ was traditionally served as liquid courage before hunting parties ventured out into the wilderness. These days, the best-known cup is the Pimm’s cup that’s famously enjoyed at Wimbledon and summer garden parties. Wherever you are, punch is a guaranteed crowd pleaser at any social occasion.
Many traditional punch recipes use rum as the base spirit, but this one mixes things up and adds a fruity botanical flavour by using Bombay Sapphire Gin. One of England’s most popular gins since it hit the market in 1987, its flavour profile of lemon, almonds and juniper berries make a perfect pairing for the spice notes of star anise and cinnamon in the punch.
When it comes to the wine, though, the hero of this punch is Belena Moscato. This wine has a nose of rose petal and orange blossom and a subtle flavour that will add to the sweetness of the punch without overpowering it. The moscato has lower alcohol content than many wines, so it’s a great ingredient if you don’t want your batch cocktail to pack too much of a punch.