Nothing goes more hand-in-hand than New Year's Eve and champagne cocktails. While most party-goers toast to the new year with a glass of bubbly straight from the bottle, I like to enjoy adding a bit of fun to my champagne with garnishes or even whipping up an easy champagne punch loaded with different alcohols and mixers.

What is the Difference Between a Punch and a Cocktail?

They are both mixed drinks, so they should be interchangeably used, right?

Wrong!

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According to Reddit User Jacquesattaques, cocktails and punches are very different alcoholic beverages. In fact, a drink can be categorized as a punch even if it is not served in a punch bowl.

A "cocktail" is liquor with a sweetener and bitters (technically a bittered sling, a sling being liquor with a sweetener). People have turned "cocktail" to mean "alcoholic mixed drink" but it's actually a category of mixed drink. A "punch" has five components -- sweet (e.g., sugar), citrus (e.g., lemon juice, or an oleo saccharum), bitter (e.g., spices), weak (e.g., soda, tea, etc.) and alcoholic (e.g., rum).

Have you been serving cocktails as your party punch?

Broken down, here are a few example ingredients that can be found in a punch:

  • Sweet - simple syrup, fresh fruit
  • Citrus - triple sec, orange slices, lime juice
  • Bitter - rosemary sprigs, bitters
  • Weak - orange juice, pineapple juice,
  • Alcoholic - Prosecco, cognac, white wine

This champagne punch recipe follows all the rules:

  • Sweet - simple syrup
  • Citrus - Lemon juice
  • Bitter - Angostura bitters
  • Weak - Ginger ale
  • Alcoholic - Champagne, rum

How to Make Champagne Punch for a Crowd

First things first, if you are making a champagne punch for a whole party, do not pull out your best champagne. Save that bottle of champagne for a special occasion, such as simply having a bottle of champagne in the fridge. Since you will be mixing in different juices and/or liqueurs, stick with sparkling wine. It'll be a little more economical.

Mix the punch in a large punch bowl or let your guests mix the drink themselves.

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New Years Champagne Punch 

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 0 minutes

servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 750-ml bottle champagne
  • 1 liter ginger ale
  • 1 cup rum
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 10 oz fresh cranberries
  • 4 oz simple syrup
  • 6 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • citrus slices for garnish

Instructions

In a large punch bowl combine the champagne, ginger ale, rum, simple syrup, cranberries, bitters, and lemon juice. Garnish with citrus slices Serve in tall glasses with ice.

Notes

Serve with a few fresh mint leaves. This can also be enjoyed during a New Year's Brunch.