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Dining In 2 minutes 18 December 2018

Recipe: The First Day Of Christmas Punch Bowl

Stir up some Yuletide cheer with this boozy concoction that is chockfull of Christmas spices.

recipe celebration Christmas

Growing up in the Philippines, bartender Kevin Saquilayan of Manhattan in Regent Singapore remembers that a punch bowl was a quintessential part of his family’s convivial Christmas feasts.

The 28-year-old says: “Christmas is always a family celebration and a party of 30 people always gather around a table filled with dishes such as ham and lechon (roast pig), but a punch bowl filled with gin, orange juice and soda water would always be the centre of attention.” He adds that everyone could help themselves to the communal bowl to ease into the festive mood and get conversation flowing.

Bartender Kevin Saquilayan of Manhattan in Regent Singapore shares his Christmas punch recipe, which is redolent of warm Christmas spices. (Credit: Kenneth Goh)
Bartender Kevin Saquilayan of Manhattan in Regent Singapore shares his Christmas punch recipe, which is redolent of warm Christmas spices. (Credit: Kenneth Goh)
For his Christmas punch bowl recipe, Saquilayan has spiced up the festive alcoholic concoction with copious amounts of cinnamon, star anise and cardamom pods. To accentuate the aroma and flavours of the spices, he recommends torching them together with a ladleful of rum before they are added into the punch bowl.

The recipe also adheres to the tradition of having five components for a punch recipe — spirit, sugar, lemon, water and tea or spices. Besides masala chai tea, his spirits of choice include a spiced pear liqueur and bourbon that injects notes of oak, vanilla and maple into the punch. Lastly, the punch bowl is topped with champagne for a fizzy finish. Afterall, what is a celebration without bubbly?
The First Day of Christmas punch has slices of dried lemons and green apple swimming in the gold-hued punch. (Credit: Kenneth Goh)
The First Day of Christmas punch has slices of dried lemons and green apple swimming in the gold-hued punch. (Credit: Kenneth Goh)
Recipe: The First Day Of Christmas Punch Bowl
Serves 10 to 20 people

Ingredients
1 Tbs cardamom pods
1 Tbs star anise
250ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
250g white sugar
250ml freshly brewed masala chai tea
150ml apple pie syrup (see below)
150ml St George’s Spice Pear liqueur
450ml Michter’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Ice (as required)
1 bottle of champagne (750ml)
Dried lemon slices and green apple slices to garnish

For apple pie syrup (makes 1 litre)
10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed
4 star anise
4 sticks cinnamon
2 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped and pods reserved
1kg sugar
500ml water

Method
1. Toast the cardamom pods and star anise in a dry pan (without oil) for 2 to 3 minutes until aromatic. Alternatively, flame spices by igniting a ladleful of rum and adding them into a punch bowl to bring out the aroma and flavours of the spices.
2. Pour lemon juice and sugar. Stir the mixture with an egg whisk till most of the sugar dissolve into the mixture
3. Add in masala chai tea, spiced pear liqueur, apple pie syrup and bourbon and mix well.
4. Add cubes or blocks of ice. Stir the punch with a spatula for two to three minutes till it is well chilled.
5. Just before serving, top the punch with a bottle champagne.
6. Garnish with dried lemon slices and green apple slices. Serve.

For the apple pie syrup
1. In a large pan over low heat, saute the cubed apple cubes for three to five minutes
2. Add star anise, cinnamon, vanilla bean seeds and pod. When the mixture is aromatic, add sugar and stir well.
3. Cook the mixture for about 3 minutes till the sugar starts to caramelise.
4. Add 500ml of water and continue cooking the apples till they are soft and the mixture has thickened (about 40 minutes).
5. Strain the mixture. Discard the apples, spices and vanilla beans, and reserve the liquid. Cool the mixture slightly before use.
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