This festive elixir will happily serve a crowd. Just remember the golden rule of punch: The party isn’t over until the bowl is empty.
2 cups (500 mL) brandy
16 dashes Angostura bitters
½ to ¾ cup (125 to 180 mL) oleo saccharum (see method below)
2 bottles sparkling wine such as cava or Champagne
Stir the brandy, bitters and oleo saccharum together in a pitcher or large glass jar and chill until ready to serve. Just before your guests arrive, pour the base into a punch bowl, add a block of ice (or, if you must, plenty of ice cubes) then top with two bottles of sparkling wine. If you like, float a few slices of lemon in the punch bowl.
Note: To make oleo saccharum, use a vegetable peeler to peel eight well-washed organic lemons, being careful to avoid the bitter pith, and place the peels in a bowl. (Reserve the lemons for another use.)
Add 2 cups (500 mL) of granulated or superfine sugar (not icing sugar) and mix well, muddling a little, if you like. Pour the mixture into a zip-lock plastic bag and let it rest somewhere warm for about 24 hours. Alternatively, use a vacuum sealer if you have one.
Scrape the resulting mixture into a small pot and add about ½ cup (125 mL) water. Heat, stirring frequently, until sugar has completely dissolved. Strain into a clean glass jar; the oleo saccharum will keep, chilled, for at least a month. Makes about 2 cups.
—by Joanne Sasvari