Serving punch at a gathering is a seriously underrated trick. Guests, savoring a complex cocktail, feel like the hosts went to great lengths when, in fact, they simply dumped some ingredients into a bowl and voilà. Punch is making a comeback—but don’t just take our word for it. Making it official, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Dallas’s renowned expert on weddings and entertaining, has chosen “large format cocktails” as the subject of her eighth book, Parties Around a Punch Bowl. It celebrates the drink’s rich history, and features a year’s worth of seasonal cocktail recipes and sweet and savory food pairings—including a sparkling pineapple-lime punch that’d be just right for Easter brunch.
(This Q&A has been edited for length.)
Texas Monthly: Some Texans know you from the society pages and the charity balls you’re involved with, but you also have this major home-entertaining streak. How does it come together for you?
Kimberly Schlegel Whitman: I genuinely love to celebrate everything! Growing up, my mother always tried to make every holiday special and celebrated any and every occasion; my parents were always looking for an excuse to throw a dinner party.
TM: What are your family’s Easter traditions?
KSW: We host an annual Easter egg hunt at White Oaks Ranch every year. We started it eight years ago when my son was little, and it has just grown and grown. Easter is a great holiday to be outdoors in the country with animals, treats, and to spend quality time with family. We always try to mix up the menu: one year we served carnival food; another year we had food trucks. We always make sure to have a signature drink that complements our food and decor. For example, the year that we used all pale purple decor, we made a lavender lemonade and served it in mason jars to match.
TM: Congrats on the new book! What inspired you to focus on punch?
KSW: It is everything I love — easy, friendly, and nostalgic. It is truly such an easy way to serve a group — so low-maintenance in comparison to serving every guest a different drink. It provides a great place for mixing and mingling. I imagine that over the years, a punch bowl has been the meeting place that sparked some exciting introductions! I also love the nostalgic quality that it has. Most people have a memory of a church gathering, a reunion, or a get-together at their grandmother’s that involved a punch bowl. And one of the best things about it is that you can’t mess it up! If you run out of an ingredient, you can always just add something else and switch up the taste a bit.
TM: How did you come up with this Easter cocktail?
KSW: I wanted something sweet and bright and fun for everyone. I always just start mixing and playing. I knew that I wanted to use a frozen concentrate and this seemed like the perfect event for it. You can leave out the Prosecco and still keep the great taste to make a virgin option that the little ones can enjoy.
TM: Or make it stronger with rum. What do you suggest pairing with it?
KSW: We love to make Peeps racers, macaroon nests, and deviled eggs around Easter. There are recipes for those in the book, too!
(Makes 16 servings)
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen limeade concentrate
4 cups pineapple juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1 liter ginger ale
1 (25 ounce) bottle Prosecco
Refrigerate all ingredients for eight hours overnight. When ready to party, combine all ingredients in your favorite punch bowl.
• For a stronger punch, add rum.
• For a nonalcoholic punch, omit the Prosecco and add sparkling limeade.
• Make lime ice cubes by freezing lime juice in your favorite ice mold.