James Beard's Champagne Punch

James Beard's Champagne Punch

I'd never considered mixing up a batch of punch for a party before this past New Year's Eve, mostly because I didn't own a punch bowl. But when I came upon this recipe for James Beard's Champagne Punch from Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook I had a feeling that this was the kind of drink that warranted the purchase of an oversized bowl. It's a classy, heady mix of Champagne (for a cheaper option, try prosecco, cava, or any other dry sparkler), Cognac, Cointreau, and orange and lemon juices—the kind of drink that goes down a little too easy.

The punch was all sparkly and warm with caramel and orange notes, and just enough citrus and cooling cucumber to keep it light, drinkable, and refreshing. It's a great way to keep a bigger crowd drinking. No need for guests to mess around with mixing their own cocktails, and at the end of the night, there aren't nearly as many beer and wine bottles to haul out to the recycling bin.

Where does the legendary James Beard come into play with this recipe? Well, Beard was known to favor a glass of Champagne as an aperitif, perhaps the bubbly base for this punch had a little something to to with that.

Reprinted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. Compilation copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company and Amanda Hesser. Recipes and reprinted text copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

  • Yield:serves 40


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice (from about 6 oranges)
  • 2 (750-ml) bottles Cognac
  • 16 ounces Cointreau
  • 4 (750-ml) bottles Champagne (or prosecco or cava), chilled
  • Grated Zest of 4 lemons
  • 20 thin cucumber slices


  1. 1.

    Gently stir together the sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, Cognac, Cointreau, Champange, and lemon zest in a large punch bowl. Chill.

  2. 2.

    Garnish the punch bowl with the cucumber slices, and set the bowl on a bed of crushed ice.