There isn't a drink that connotes celebration as clearly as Champagne. The word itself is universally synonymous with elegance, glitter, and festive exuberance. And though it's delicious on its own, sparkling wine's crisp, refreshing nature marries beautifully with a huge array of flavors. Vintage cocktail books are rife with recipes for champagne cocktails and punches that bring together liquor and fresh fruit to create easy, lovely bowls of bubbly dressed up for company.
The Champagne Cup is one of six champagne punches featured in Esquire's Handbook for Hosts. The book notes that a "bowl of cheer is a natural hub of a party...you'll be surprised at the converts you win with some of these mixtures—particularly if you ladle them into stemmed Delmonico glasses or outright tumblers rather than those cute-handled cuppies known as knuckle-traps."
Combining the fresh tang of pineapple, cucumber, orange and cherry with the rich flavors of cognac and Benedictine, the Champagne Cup underscores the wine without overwhelming it. The only advance preparation required is freezing a large piece of ice. And for those of you who don't have punch bowls lying around, never fear: this punch is served by the pitcher. True Champagne is not required; a good American sparkler or Spanish Cava works just fine.
- Yield:Serves 12
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:4 hours
- 1 orange
- 1 small pineapple, or 1 can pineapple rings
- 1 cucumber, preferably unwaxed
- 1 jar brandied cherries
- 2 ounces Benedictine liqueur
- 2 ounces brandy
- 1 bottle sparkling wine
- garnish: 3-5 sprigs fresh mint (optional)
At least four hours before the party, pour water into an 8-inch x 4-inch container or loaf pan until about one inch deep. Freeze completely.
Prepare the punch just before serving. Slice three 1/4-inch thick rounds from the orange. Save remaining orange for another purpose.
If using fresh pineapple, trim away the skin and top and slice three 1/2-inch thick rounds. If using canned pineapple, remove three slices from the can. Save remaining pineapple for another purpose.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove three slices of peel lengthwise down the cucumber.
Dislodge the ice from its mold and place it in a pitcher. Add the orange and pineapple slices, a handful of drained cherries and the strips of cucumber peel. Add the Benedictine and brandy to the pitcher. Top with the bottle of sparkling wine and stir to combine. Garnish with the sprigs of mint if desired and serve.