It’s a known fact—if you’re trying to have a party, more people will show up if you promise them “punch and pie.”
(And if you need proof, the South Park kids will provide it.)
So for my (now) annual holiday hash knife party, “The Knife Before Christmas”, I knew I needed to step it up, but in a communal kind of way. Punch is like a really awesome food trough, but for alcohol.
Which may be why, Punch has been around almost forever (or at least since that 1950s dance scene in Back to the Future). In actuality, the first recorded recipes and references to the big bowl of public booze, seem to date back to the 1600s India. European Sailors would apparently take Asian spirits like Arak, and try to “turn it back into wine” by re-acidifying it with lemon juice and sugars.
Who knows for sure, but for “The Knife Before Christmas 2023”, I wanted a punch that would make an impression, so I hit up Zack Lavoie, Bar Manager at Whistler’s Wild Blue Restaurant + Bar. Zack’s a born and raised skier and mountain biker who’s also a true alchemist behind the bar. His pine-nut inspired Pinoli Negroni was recently crowned Canada’s “Cocktail of the year” by Air Canada’s En Route magazine (Air Canada will lose your luggage and suck ass in almost every conceivable way, but their in-flight magazine is actually kind of respected).
“My first exposure to punch was making it for my 20th birthday” Zack says. ” it was awful. Super boozy, unbalanced, and undiluted. It feels like the world has steered away from punch as the pace of living picked up. It was no longer acceptable to sit around and finish a giant bowl of punch so bars began making smaller, single-serve versions of their famous punches, and so began cocktail culture. I love punches though, mostly so i don’t get stuck shaking and cleaning all night and can instead focus on my friends and family. We make a punch for every big holiday and party.”
Zack Lavoie’s French 75 Punch
- 500 ml gin or vodka
- 250 ml simple syrup. (Make a fruit or flavoured tea, strain off, add equal parts sugar to liquid, mix well.)
- 250 ml lemon juice
- 750 ml sparkling wine
- 350 ml soda water
- lemon wheels, fruit, herbs to garnish the bowl
This punch was a huge hit down to the last drop. I used Vodka and for the simple syrup i used a mandarin/honeybush tea. I also doubled the recipe to fill the bowl and, of course, the better quality your ingredients the better it tastes. Also, you can find punch bows easily at most thrift stores, the world hasn’t re-caught on to punch’s awesomeness yet. Get the one with matching punch cups, and serve your punch in glass glasses, plastic cups suck ass. Zack adds that. “David Wondrich has a fantastic book titled Punch which is the most accurate history of the ‘forgotten format’.”
In an effort to minimize dish doing, i opted to make mini pies (also known as tarts). For the holiday sweet toothers I went with Broke-n-Lazy Pumpkin Pie, using store-bought tart shells and served with whipped cream (from a can). The recipe will give you 36 tarts and each one is an excellent excuse to hammer back some serious whipped cream.
For the main course, and because it was a hash knife party, Chicken Pot Pie tarts did the trick.
Chicken Pot Pie Tarts
(makes 24 tarts)
48 store bought tart shells
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 decent-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion (diced)
3 decent-sized carrots (diced)
4 stalks of celery (diced)
1.5 cups frozen peas
1 can of turkey gravy
3/4 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, whipped
1. Put a rub on the chicken breasts and bake them at 400 F for 25 minutes
2. In a large pan, combine the oil, celery, onions, carrots and sauté until soft.
3. Add cooked, diced chicken, peas, gravy.
4. Add soup stock slowly until desired consistency is attained (slightly goopy)
5. Place tart shells on cookie sheet, fill heaping with filling.
6. Remove extra tart shells from tins, use as top crusts, pinch to bottom shells
7. Brush tart tops with whisked egg
8. Poke a couple holes in each tart lid
9. Bake at 350 F for about 30 mins, or until top is golden brown and filling us bubbling up through the holes.
10. Cool, serve. Or refrigerate and reheat the next day at your hash knife party.
Invite more people than you think you can handle and let them know that “punch and pie” means they should come ready to eat (or smoke enough hash they get hungry again.) Enjoy!
The photos for this post kind of suck ass because they are mine and i was running around at the party hosting/dj-ing, keeping the pies warm, the punch cold, and the bonfire stoked. Luckily Sharai Rewels had her good camera there so hopefully there are better shots coming