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Serving punch at a holiday party or any kind of gathering is the least expensive route.

If you take advantage of sales for the soda, fruit juice and other mixers, it can be very affordable to serve friends a delicious drink that doesn't cost a fortune.

Over the Christmas holiday, we stretched (OK, rationed) one batch of homemade eggnog to last three days. Public health police prohibit me from printing the recipe, because it contains raw eggs and they fear I will kill off our readers, but just know that it is the best eggnog on the planet -- and that people who normally refuse to drink eggnog love it and ask for more.

This was the first year in a while that we didn't have someone pregnant or underage (Evelyn's not allowed to have dairy or sugar yet), so I got by with one batch of the leaded -- very leaded -- variety.

The biggest problem with making it last is not necessarily the expense but the fact that it must be made 24 hours in advance of enjoying, whether or not it is leaded. So running out and wanting more was not really an option with the wait time of a day.

Constant Readers may remember that while the kids were home, I would make two batches -- leaded and unleaded -- and label them in the hopes that they would choose the correct one from the fridge. Not sure they always did, but at least I tried.

So here is a champagne punch perfect for Thursday evening or anytime. It makes 16 to 18 servings and uses just one bottle of champagne. Your money saving resolutions for the new year will be off to a great start, and you'll be serving something that is refreshing and tastes good at the same time.

From the little frigid homestead to yours, enjoy New Year's Eve and the weekend, and here's to a fabulous 2016 for all of us.

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Champagne Party Punch

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 1 quart ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) champagne, chilled

In a large pitcher, combine the sugar and water; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the apple juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, orange juice concentrate and lime juice. Refrigerate until serving.

Just before serving, pour into a punch bowl and add ice cubes. Slowly add the ginger ale and champagne. Serves 16 to 18 (3-1/2 quarts).

Making an ice ring: Fill a ring mold halfway with water. Freeze until solid. Top with your choice of fruit. Add lemon leaves if desired. Add enough water to almost cover fruit. Freeze until solid. Unmold by wrapping the bottom of the mold with a hot, damp dishcloth. Turn out onto a baking sheet; place in punch bowl fruit side up.

(Recipes courtesy of "The Taste of Home Cookbook")

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