Festive Pines Punch

The thing I love most about my craft is the opportunity to share it with those I love. However, I try to strike a balance between being a good hostess, creating imaginative cocktails and actually enjoying the company of my loved ones. The best way I've found to accomplish all of those things is to create cocktails in punch form. You can make a punch fit any style of party by adjusting the presentation. This particular creation is meant for a festive holiday gathering.

Before we get to the drink itself, let's talk ice. Typical cloudy ice cubes just aren't the most attractive thing to look at and tend to melt fairly quickly due to the air bubbles they contain. You can always cover them up with punch garnishes such as flowers and citrus fruit but there's another, fairly effortless alternative: use a silicon bundt cake pan to make a decorative ring of ice. I picked this one up on Amazon for under $12 and was so impressed with the result. It didn't take too long to freeze (I made mine overnight), looked lovely, and melted slowly. You can fill yours with herbs and fruit if you wish, but I found that doing so discolored the ice and therefore added my garnish separately.

I had picked up a bottle of Far North Solveig Gin while travelling to Duluth, Minnesota and wanted to incorporate it into a festive cocktail that did the beautiful bottle justice. Aside from the eye-catching branding, the gin is really well done. It's made with winter rye grain and features citrus, pine, lavender, thyme and coriander flavors. While I always appreciate a straightforward gin, I get so excited to see distilleries playing with different grains and unique botanicals. 

The typical ingredient used for festive holiday color is the cranberry, but I wanted to explore an alternative and settled on concord grapes for both their high pigmentation and rich flavor. You may liken concord grapes to typical "grape" flavor but the fresh fruit is so much brighter and sweeter. I bought them at the height of their freshness and chose to preserve them in syrup form. I added rosemary to the syrup for a savory aromatic note and to complement the botanicals of the gin.

To finish off the cocktail, I added fragrant Meyer lemon juice and Cava, a Spanish variety of sparkling wine. I prefer to use lower cost sparkling wines when I'm adding them to cocktails instead of enjoying them on their own. The Cava category tends to offer a good selection of low cost options with a nice citrus flavor that doesn't steal the show. The resulting punch is wonderfully festive, fragrant and sweet-tart. While it features gin as the main spirit it's got enough other flavors in tow to appeal even to gin skeptics. 

Festive Pines Punch 

Ratios for 1 serving (scale up as needed):

  • 1 oz gin
  • 2 oz Cava sparkling wine
  • 0.5 oz concord grape rosemary syrup*
  • 0.25 oz Meyer lemon
  • Fresh rosemary, for garnish

Chill ingredients prior to serving. Scale up the recipe as needed and combine all ingredients other than garnish in a punch bowl over a ring of ice. Stir to chill and combine and then garnish with fresh rosemary. Enjoy with holiday cookies and good cheer.

* To make syrup, combine 1 lb grapes, 3 cups water and 1 cup sugar in a medium pot. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add 3 sprigs of rosemary. Simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, then strain and allow to cool. Store excess in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Thanks to Belen Aquino for the stunning cocktail photography and to Gather Vintage Tablescapes for the punch bowl, cups and tray. 



With Valentine's Day coming up, you may be wondering how to best treat your significant other, your crush or, better yet, yourself. This year, I encourage you to skip the flowers and chocolates and get your indulgence fix with a well-made cocktail. Creamy, tart and herbal, this take on the classic gin fizz will leave nothing to be desired in both looks and taste. Because nothing says intense passion like gin, juicy blackberries, a dash of rosemary and a topping of airy foam.

This cocktail is a tad more complex than some of the others I've shared as it requires making your own simple syrup and incorporates egg whites. While both of those may seem intimidating, I promise you - they're really not. Simple syrup just takes a little patience. Heat water, sugar and whatever flavor agent you're adding until the sugar dissolves and the flavor has sufficiently been infused into the syrup (or just follow my instructions below to take the guesswork out of it). It's a really great way to incorporate herbs into your drinks while adding some sweetness. Sage, lavender, basil and rosemary are some of my favorite variations thus far, but I look forward to experimenting with many more.

Now that we've crossed that bridge, let's tackle egg whites. Getting a little squeamish at the thought of consuming raw eggs? I feel you. I used to avoid egg white cocktails at all costs. However, I now strongly regret my wasted years of not drinking deliciously foamy concoctions. It's true that egg whites carry the risk of salmonella. Using fresh, pasteurized eggs makes that risk virtually nonexistent. So how do you turn goopy eggs into magical froth topping? In the process of shaking egg white with citrus, the egg white proteins are emulsified - or broken down in structure to create a foamy texture. Citrus and proper agitation are key. Get ready to work out those cocktail shaking muscles!

If you loved egg whites in this cocktail and want to try more - check out this previous post.

The Infatuation

  • 2 oz gin
  • 0.75 oz rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)*
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • 1 pasteurized egg white (egg whites from a carton are easy and create less waste)
  • 5 ripe blackberries

Place blackberries in a cocktail shaker and muddle to release the liquid. Add gin, rosemary simple syrup, lemon juice and egg white. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds, making sure you're holding the top of the shaker so it doesn't fly off due to the developing pressure. Carefully open the shaker to add a few ice cubes. Shake again until shaker is frosted over, then strain into a stemmed or embellished glass. You may have to wiggle the shaker a bit when pouring as the blackberry pulp will plug the holes. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and serve to your sweetheart. 

* To make rosemary simple syrup, add 2 cups filtered water, 0.5 cup sugar and a handful of fresh rosemary to a small sauce pan. Cook over low heat for approximately 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Strain out rosemary and allow to cool, then transfer unused portion to a jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.