The rosemary cocktail doesn’t come any more Hallowe’eny than this: “Rosemary, Baby!” – a little sweet, a little bitter, with just enough herbal and citrus flavor to balance it out. Oh, and it’s blood red. Good for individual cocktails or a party punch!
It should come as a shock to absolutely no one (who either knows me or has glanced at this blog) that I like cocktails. Whenever I go to a new restaurant, the first thing I check out is the cocktail list. And whenever we throw a party, we try to have at least one cool cocktail on offer as an option to beer and wine. Fun, right? But you know what’s not fun? Spending your entire party behind a bar, mixing individual cocktails for 30 people.
That, my lovelies, is why God invented the punch bowl.
Nerd Alert: Here is a short, mostly-accurate history of the term “punch”. Punches date back to the 1600s, when British sailors required something to drink that wouldn’t spoil in the tropical heat of India and Indonesia. (Unlike us modern dummies, British sailors were entitled to ten pints of beer a day. Yes, entitled). A true punch will always be a balance of five flavors (some kind of citrus, a sweetener, a base spirit, a weak portion like juice or wine and a seasoning portion, like herbs or spices). It’s meant to be less potent than a standard cocktail, allowing party-goers to gather around the bowl and socialize. Here endeth the lesson.
Since neither Matt nor I planned to dress as a bartender for Halloween, we decided to go the punch route. After many, many minutes of research, we settled on this recipe from Prime Meats. Now I know what you’re thinking and, no, we didn’t choose it just because we love that restaurant and used to go there all the time when we lived two blocks away. And we didn’t chose it simply due to its perfect Hallowe’en name, Rosemary, Baby!, an homage to one of my favorite horror films. We chose it because it sounded delicious. And it was. Delicious, that is.
The rosemary cocktail would be a great choice as a punch for any holiday party, because it’s not too sweet, or too strong and it’s so, so pretty!
I’m sad to say that we don’t have any pictures of it in punch form (because it was a party, and also my birthday and after a few tipples I didn’t trust myself not to drop my very nice camera right into the punchbowl). I will say that it looked beautiful, especially bubbling up with dramatic fog from the dry ice Matt was kind enough to get. I did, however, snap a few shots of us dressed up before the guests arrived.
One of the main ingredients of this rosemary cocktail punch is Aperol, which is a low alcohol, Italian aperitif similar to Campari. It has a very subtle, bitter flavor that is delicious paired with rosemary and grapefruit. This punch balances its herbal notes with the sweetness of bourbon and honey. A splash of sparkling wine gives it a light, crisp finish. It really is a great combination.
Below you will find two rosemary cocktail recipes. One is for the punch, which requires a few steps that need to done in advance (the rosemary needs to be steeped in a bottle of Aperol for three hours, and a simple, honey syrup needs to be made and cooled).
But because I really, really like you, I’m also including a second recipe for a single cocktail which can be made in five minutes. This version lightly muddles the rosemary instead of steeping it and uses grapefruit soda for sweetness in place of the honey syrup. Both are absolutely delicious.
- This is not the place for top-of-the-line, incredibly expensive bourbon. Prime Meats uses Four Roses Yellow Label, though feel free to ask your liquor store for their recommendation.
- Same goes for the sparkling wine. A decent Prosecco would be perfect.
- The punch recipe will leave you with extra rosemary-infused Aperol and honey syrup, so you’ll be ready for that second batch.
- This drink is not just a rosemary cocktail: a little grapefruit soda like San Pellegrino’s Pompelmo would also work in the punch.
- 2 ounces Aperol
- 1 ounce bourbon (recommended: Four Roses Yellow Label)
- 1 ounce grapefruit soda (recommended: San Pellegrino Pompelmo)
- ¾ ounce club soda
- ¾ ounce sparkling wine
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 grapefruit slice, for garnish
- In a cocktail shaker, lightly muddle 1 sprig of rosemary with the Aperol 5 times. Do not over-muddle rosemary. Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add bourbon and grapefruit soda. Shake well, then pour, strained, into highball glass.
- Top with club soda and sparkling wine, garnish with grapefruit slice and 2nd rosemary sprig, and serve. (Add more grapefruit soda if you like it sweeter)
- For the Rosemary-Infused Aperol:
- 1 bottle Aperol
- 3 long sprigs fresh rosemary
- For the honey syrup:
- 1 cup (8 ounces) warm water
- 1 cup (8 ounces) honey
- For the punch:
- 2¼ cups (18 ounces) rosemary-infused Aperol
- 1 cup (9 ounces) bourbon such as Four Roses Yellow Label
- ¾ cup (6 ounces) honey syrup
- 3 cups (24 ounces) sparkling wine
- 3 cups (24 ounces) club soda
- Garnish: grapefruit slices and additional rosemary sprigs
- Place 3 long sprigs of fresh rosemary in a bottle of Aperol. Let sit for 3 hours at room temperature, strain.
- Combine honey and warm water. Stir together thoroughly, or combine in a jar and shake until mixed.
- Mix rosemary-infused Aperol, bourbon, and honey syrup in a punch bowl. Top with sparkling wine and seltzer. Garnish with grapefruit slices and rosemary sprigs and serve with ice.