Serve White Christmas Margarita Punch this holiday

Brian Rung

    Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? If you live in Minneapolis, Denver or Milwaukee, you have at least a 50/50 chance of having at least one inch of snow on the ground when Santa makes his rounds this year.
    The rest of us will begin watching the forecast a few days before Christmas, perhaps arguing over which one of us last shoveled the driveway.
    This year our Christmas is going to be white regardless of the forecast, because we are going to serve the modern classic White Christmas Margarita Punch. Wait a minute, Margaritas? Yes, Margaritas for Christmas. As you will see below, this is no ordinary Margarita.  
    I first noticed the White Christmas Margarita Punch appearing all over social media platforms about two years ago. I waited a year to actually try it, and I must admit it grew on me. It bears little resemblance to a standard Margarita and is more akin to a Pina Colada.
    The drink uses virtually every coconut product that you can think of, but remember that the goal is to maintain a bright white color. To achieve a pure white color all of the ingredients must be white, clear or nearly clear. Coconut is the only way to go.
    The basic Margarita is made from tequila, lime juice and something sweet such as triple sec, simple syrup or agave nectar. Can we really call this a Margarita with a straight face?
    Well, this recipe will use the basic building blocks of the Margarita in addition to a ton of coconut.  Coconut may not be a flavor synonymous with Christmas, but the finished product looks amazing when served with a holiday meal, especially garnished with cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.
    This is a fun cocktail, by no means one that will satisfy the craft cocktail purist. If the resident craft cocktail purist in your group complains, simply throw 1 1/2 ounces tequila, 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice, 3/4 ounce triple sec and a splash of simple syrup in a shaker and shake up a rock-solid Margarita. That should keep them quiet while the rest of your guests partake in your new White Christmas Margarita tradition.
    Tequila may be one of three spirits used in the White Christmas Margarita Punch, but it is the foundation of the Margarita platform. Since we're going to pour 10 ounces of tequila into a large mixing bowl, let's make sure that we get the right tequila.
    The “right” tequila in this case is a silver/blanco tequila, and one that is labeled “100 percent agave.”  I don't care how cheap the “made from blue agave” bottle is, buy the “100 percent agave” bottle every time.  
    The price point for a quality 100 percent agave blanco tequila begins around $20 depending on state and local taxes, and you will find Altos, El Amo and Hornitos nearly impossible to beat at their respective price points.
    Stick with a silver tequila in this one as opposed to a darker aged tequila like a reposado or an anejo. Remember, we want the finished product to be a bright white color.
    Triple sec has become a catch-all term for orange liqueur and it is often applied to liqueurs that are not triple secs. For example, Gran Mariner is not a triple sec, neither is any spirit labeled “orange curacao.”
    The gold standard triple sec is Cointreau and you will find it behind nearly every commercial bar in the world. Cointreau may be more expensive than most triple secs but you absolutely get what you pay for and 375 ml bottles are available at a lower price point. Look for Bol's Triple Sec if Cointreau is unavailable or not in your budget.  
    I am very much a rum purist and rarely reach for flavored rum unless the recipe calls for over the top and unapologetically artificial flavor.
    The White Christmas Margarita Punch is an explosion of coconut flavor and the flavored rum helps to calm down the bite that 10 ounces of tequila can bring to the punch. I suppose just about any coconut rum would work, but we'll go with Malibu as it is one of the best in the flavored category and is widely available.
    On average you can expect approximately one ounce of lime juice from an average sized lime, pick up a dozen limes for every batch of White Christmas Margarita Punch that you plan on serving just to be on the safe side.
    Be sure to ask Santa for a lime squeezer if you don't already have one. Use fresh lime juice in this and every Margarita.   
    The simple syrup used in this recipe is 1:1 sugar to water. To make simple syrup, heat a cup of water then stir in a cup of sugar, allow contents to cool before serving.
    To build White Christmas Margarita Punch, combine in large pitcher or mixing bowl:
    • 10 ounces blanco tequila
    • 8 ounces triple sec (Cointreau or Bol's)
    • 8 ounces fresh lime juice
    • 8 ounces coconut water
    • 8 ounces canned coconut milk
    • 6 ounces coconut cream
    • 6 ounces coconut rum (Malibu)
    • 6 ounces simple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
    Whisk ingredients until a smooth consistency is achieved.
    Serve over ice in lowball glasses.
    Garnish with sprigs of rosemary and fresh cranberries.
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.