There are at least a dozen items to check off your to-do list when you’re throwing a party, but if you’re anything like me, the two most important things — the food and drink — are the first items I plan.
When it comes to drinks, I always like to offer my guests the standards — water, soda, beer and wine — but I also try to have one “signature drink” that can be served either with liquor or as a mocktail for those who aren’t of legal age or want to abstain for other reasons. I used to go with a store-bought frozen juice, mix it with whatever liquor I had on hand, and then top it off with a bit of bubbly (or seltzer water), but I’ve come to find that making a fun drink from scratch is just as easy, and SO much better.
Typically every drink I make correlates to the season we’re in, so now that we’re deep into spring and making our way into summer, something fruit-based is exactly what I’m craving. Plus, you’ve got to buy up that fresh fruit while it’s available!
When I think of a “celebratory,” drink, my mind automatically gravitates toward something bubbly. Whether the bubbles come from seltzer water or sparkling wine doesn’t really matter (although if I’m drinking it, the choice is ALWAYS champs). For others who don’t share my love of champs, I also have an alternate variation that uses club soda.
What I love most about this punch is it’s super versatile, and pretty much anything works, just pick up whatever fruit is in stock or on sale at the grocery store. In my case, blueberries were on sale for $5.99 a pound when I walked into the store — which is a BARGAIN! — so that’s automatically what I reached for. Blackberries, raspberries or strawberries would also work great.
To make the base of the drink, combine the blueberries, basil, water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer it until the blueberries have dissolved and the liquid is a gorgeous, deep purple. You could leave it as-is because everything is edible, but I like to strain the mixture to make everything super smooth.
I keep the base — with or without the vodka — in a pitcher until just before I want to serve the drink, and the seltzer or sparkling wine in the fridge. If you add the seltzer or wine ahead of time, it will lose that effervescent bubbly factor that makes it really special.
You can either pour the bubbly into the pitcher, or – and this is what I like to do so everything stays fresh — keep the base in the pitcher and pour it into each cup as you go. Top each glass off with seltzer or sparkling wine. Serve with some fresh blueberries or a wedge of lime and you’re good to go!
- 1 lb. blueberries
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup basil
- Juice of two limes
- 1 liter club soda for non-alcoholic version
- ½ cup vodka for alcohol version
- 1 bottle champagne for alcohol version
- Add the blueberries, basil, water and sugar to a medium saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Push the mixture through a sieve and into a pitcher. Add lime juice and vodka if you're using them. Chill in the fridge until cool, about 45 minutes.
- Add sparkling wine or club soda right before serving.
- Garnish with extra blueberries, lime or basil.
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