There comes a time in the life of many trick-or-treaters (read: after said trick-or-treaters turn 21) when Halloween can provide a little more kick than the frighteningly heavy bag of candy. In an attempt to spice up this year’s Halloween, I explored my options for a spooky cocktail. After some serious internet scouring, I found the recipe for Pumpkin Spice Punch.
What most attracted me to this recipe was the size. Two bottles of wine, three cups of apple cider and a cup of bourbon would be enough to satisfy my friends and more. So I went to work. One thing I should say before I continue is that I frequently have been known to improvise my recipes, which sometimes results in fantastic creations and other times results in culinary failures. This recipe may have been a little bit of both.
I began with mixing. The recipe called for two bottles of Pinot Grigio, three cups of apple cider and one cup of bourbon. The two bottles of wine went into the bowl pretty easily, although the time it took to pour out the bottle made me a little wary of just how much alcohol I was using. When I added the apple cider to the mix, the drink took on a nice russet tone. I had picked out a spiced cinnamon bourbon that I thought would complement the cider well, so in went maybe a cup and a half of that. Liquids complete.
Now for the garnish. This recipe is advertised as a little bit of a mix between summery sangria and punch. I personally think the only similarity is the fruit because it didn’t taste anything like sangria. I cut three apples and two pears into chunks, adding them to the mixture.
The recipe also called for an orange but I opted for two clementines instead. As I said, I like to improvise. As my little fruity additions bobbed around in the highly alcoholic pool, I grabbed a spoon for a taste test. Bad idea. I’m not sure who decided that mixing white wine and bourbon was a smart move, but at this stage in the creation, it wasn’t. So … when in doubt, add sugar.
In my preparation to make the punch, I had picked up a huge teddy bear of honey. And by huge, I mean huge. Envision the normal, cute little plastic teddy bear filled with honey that you find on the shelves of any average grocery store. This teddy bear would’ve eaten all those teddy bears, gone to the next store, eaten all those teddy bears, and still not have been full. I poured maybe a third of this container into the punch. From here, stirring got a little tricky. The spoon kept getting stuck in the gigantic honey glob coating the bottom of the pot. Five minutes later, my arm was actually a little sore, and the punch was ready.
Armed with a trusty Solo cup, I dipped it into the bowl and began ladling out portions. I paid special attention to the divvying-up of apple chunks, which added both crunch and texture to the drink. I handed out beverages to a few of my friends, and we dove in. The general reviews on the Pumpkin Spice Punch (which I guess should maybe just be called Apple Spice Punch since I completely skipped the pumpkin spice part of it) were mixed. Although the honey helped the drink significantly, I’m just not sure that mixing apple-spiced bourbon with white wine will ever be a good idea. Even the addition of two bottles of pumpkin-flavored beer (which added the much-needed pumpkin spice) didn’t improve the flavor of the punch. However, the concoction had been completely consumed within the next hour. My ultimate rating would be a 5.8/10. Make it if you have a group of people coming over, and you don’t actually want them to stay. A better option for a Halloween-themed drink: Pumpkin Keg.
(The actual recipe also calls for a tablespoon of lemon juice, a quarter cup of brown sugar and half a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. I didn’t have any of these things so I didn’t add any, but just a disclaimer that these may help the drink significantly.)