The punch bowl — it's the perfect solution to your party drinking conundrum, especially for New Year's Eve. Because, let's face it: Enough Champagne or decent sparkling wine to get you through the evening can be formidable, cost-wise. Not to mention keeping all those bottles cold and getting them all open. You'll spend your whole night in bartender mode, and that's no fun at all.

A few years ago, I switched my party drinks strategy from beer and wine to punch. Chatham Artillery punch to be exact. It's perfect for New Year's because it includes Champagne, but it won't keep you tied to popping corks all night.

This recipe is not the original, which is boozier and doesn't include green tea, and it's not the one served throughout the South for much of the past 100 years, which includes sweet wine, pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries. It's somewhere in between: a little tea for flavor and caffeine, and without all the sickly sweet fruit. Watch out — this stuff is delicious and far stronger than it tastes.

Chatham Artillery Punch

From: Years of tinkering on my part

Makes: 30 servings

1 quart strong brewed green tea

6 lemons

1/2 lb light brown sugar

1 750-ml bottle dark rum

1 750-ml bottle brandy

1 750-ml bottle rye whiskey

4 bottles Champagne

1. Decide what you'll be using for your punch bowl, then find a bowl about 1/2 the size. Fill with water and put it in the freezer to make a big ice cube for your punch bowl.

2. Juice 4 of the lemons and thinly slice the other two. Mix the lemon juice and green tea. Add the sugar. Add rum, brandy and whiskey. Allow to stand for a few hours. (Can be made up to 5 days in advance).

3. Divide your boozy mixture into two equal parts in two containers.

4. To serve: Upend ice block into your punch bowl. Add 1/2 the sliced lemon. Pour one container of booze mixture over ice. Top with 2 bottles of champagne. Swirl gently. When this is gone, repeat with the rest of the liquor and Champagne (this will insure you have enough punch for your whole party but also that the Champagne won't be flat half way through the night).

See also:

Punch Drunk: On Jerry Thomas' Bar-Tender's Guide

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