Summer Entertaining with Wisconsin Cheese

baronesspunch

by Selena of The Dizzy Fizz

As a cocktail blogger in New York City, I often attend parties on weeknights, immediately after leaving my day job. (Hey, it’s hard work, but someone’s got to do it!)

I jokingly tell my friends that dinner for me is usually a cheese plate or a smattering of hors d’oeuvres, all served with a bevy of cocktails. It’s never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach, but sometimes it’s difficult to find time to squeeze in a full meal when I’m attending more than one event per night.

We all know that cheese is usually served with wine, and even beer, but it’s a wonderful complement to cocktails as well. For easy summer entertaining, make a cheese platter for your guests to go with a pitcher of sangria or punch. I like to make punches for my guests because everyone can be served as soon as they arrive. Punch is basically a single cocktail recipe batched for a large group.

Take a look at your liquor cabinet and decide which spirits you want to choose to anchor your punch. For the modifying spirits and juices, think about some of your favorite cocktails—choose crowd-pleasing combinations that will appeal to various types of drinkers.

Use seasonal fruit and herbs for the freshest flavors, and always use fresh-squeezed juice when possible. It’s also a great idea to infuse spirits or sugar syrups in advance with fruit, spices or herbs.

Oh, and don’t forget the ice—I like to put a bread pan filled with water in the freezer a couple nights before a party to make block ice. The larger the chunk of ice, the slower it will melt.

 

Sharp Wisconsin Cheddar and mild earthy cheeses, such as Wisconsin Fontina, will contrast the bold and acidic flavors of punches that include fruit juice. See the following two punch recipes that were a hit at one of my recent events! Both punches serve 30 to 50 guests. Adjust accordingly.

Punched by a Baroness

by Selena of The Dizzy Fizzy

45 oz dry gin
15 oz Crème Yvette (or substitute Crème Violette or Crème de Cassis)
15 oz lemon juice
7.5 oz blackberry-infused agave nectar*
30 oz seltzer

Mix equal parts agave nectar (*or sugar or honey) with almost-boiling water in a sanitized, airtight canister. Add blackberries, close container and shake. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Tease Me Punch

by Selena of The Dizzy Fizzy

60 oz bourbon
15 oz Earl Grey iced tea
30 oz lemon juice
22.5 oz mint and cardamom-infused agave nectar*
15 oz seltzer

Follow the same instructions as the recipe above, only use 8 to 10 fresh mint sprigs and 2 teaspoons of dried cardamom.

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