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Spiced Pear Punch

This aromatic craft cocktail is a winter wonderland in a champagne flute. Star anise swirl woozily around a sparkling, fragrant spiked roasted pear puree scented with heady spices, vanilla, citrus, and ginger. Hints of malt and caramel add heft and complexity. Presented in a punch bowl over a large ice block, your guests will want to dive in head first and herald the Second Coming.

This recipe comes to Piece Meal courtesy of master mixologist Anne Carlson, currently of Ward Eight Cocktail Lounge in Evanston, Illinois. We adapted the original recipe that appeared in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Imbibe. Spiced Pear Punch is ideal for a party of eight or so, yielding approximately twelve flutes worth when ladled out.

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Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

For the pear puree

5 ripe pears

3 tablespoons demerara sugar

4 ounces cognac

6 cinnamon sticks

8 star anise

12 cloves

1 vanilla bean

For the punch

6 ounces roasted pear puree 6 ounces Ransom Old Tom Gin (or comparable malted gin) 6 ounces ginger liqueur 6 ounces cognac 3 ounces fresh lemon juice 18 ounces prosecco Ice Block

DIRECTIONS

To make the pear puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel, halve and core 5 ripe pears. Arrange the pears in a roasting pan and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Pour 4 ounces of cognac over the pears. Then add the cinnamon sticks, the star anise and the cloves to the pan. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scape out the seeds and add them to the roasting pan along with the pod. Toast the pears in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the spices and vanilla bean pod, reserving the star anise for garnish, and puree the pears and liquid in the blender or food processor until thoroughly mixed and the pear is completely pureed.

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To make the punch

Combine the pear puree, gin, ginger liqueur, cognac and lemon juice in a pitcher and chill for several hours in the refrigerator. To serve, place an ice block in a punch bowl and pour the pear mixture over the ice and finish with the chilled prosecco. Garnish the flutes with the star anise and a twist of lemon rind.

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