Spiced Pear-Champagne Punch
Like an effervescent winter sangría, this champagne punch captures seasonal flavors in bubbly holiday form. Start by marinating sliced pears in a sweet spiced syrup with brandy, orange liqueur, and lemon juice, then—just before your guests arrive—add blood orange slices, kumquats, and champagne (if you can’t find kumquats in the market, slice and add a second blood orange instead). This is a light punch (not too boozy!), festive and fabulous for a Christmas or New Year’s cocktail party, open house, or brunch. It helps to know how to open a Champagne bottle before you start.
Make-ahead note: The spiced syrup can be made and refrigerated in a container with a tight-fitting lid for up to 2 weeks.
For more cheer, check out our Brandy-Apple Punch, Barbarossa Punch, and St. Cecilia’s Punch.
For the spiced syrup:
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 star anise pods
- 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced (no need to peel)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved
For the punch:
- 2 medium pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 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) bottles champagne or dry sparkling wine
- 1 ice block
- 1 medium blood orange, sliced into half-moons
- 1 cup kumquats, thinly sliced (optional)
To make the spiced syrup:
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.
To assemble 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.
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