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Filtering by Tag: cocktails

MT. VERNON XMAS PUNCH (& other Homemade Gifts)

A. K. Lister

There is no good reason not to have an arsenal of homemade gifts on hand this time of year, whether to give to hosts of the many Christmas (and Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, etc.) parties you are sure to attend, or to reciprocate when a neighbor shows up with a little surcee for you and yours.  

Homemade gifts, like the Washington family's famed punch, can be simultaneously simple to prepare and yet still spectacular to behold, not to mention imbibe.  For as velvet-y as this punch may seem, it is a nonetheless quite potent mixture of bourbon, rum, Chartreuse, sherry, vermouth, and tea, cured for a week in tightly-sealed mason jars.  

Who knew George was such a party animal?!  You can find the recipe for Washington's Punch in our Archive.  Each jar may be individually labeled and tied up in a cheery ribbon, with serving instructions alongside for the recipient to enjoy at another occasion.

Now, there are a few ways to serve a jar of Mt. Vernon Christmas Punch.  For a small gathering of 5 or less, stick with cocktails.  Simply pour a couple ounces of the base over ice, top with either champagne or soda, and garnish with a cherry.  Why not present a plate of Cheese Coins alongside?

For 6 or more, get out the punch bowl -- we're having a party!  But first, you'll need an Ice Ring.  Simply fill a bundt pan halfway with cranberries, cherries, or any other festive fruit to garnish your punch.  Then run hot water over the pan to loosen the ice, flip it into the bowl, and top with 2-3 bottles of champagne to put it to action.  Like so:

There you have it, Mt. Vernon Christmas Punch, the gift that keeps on giving.  There are plenty of other goodies you can whip up and portion for casual gifting, whether alongside the punch or no.  Try biscotti, bourbon cake, or Raisin Scones.

But, if your kitchen is already sanctioned for other grandiose projects -- we're making Prime Rib for Christmas Eve dinner (more on that a little later this week) -- build your Holiday credit with promises for the New Year: offer to make a series of meals, complete with menu suggestions, for someone extra special, or plan to throw a dinner party in their honor.  Or, simply take all your girlfriends out for a nice lunch and hand out a few fabulous party favors.

Regardless, 'tis the season to let the people you love know exactly how you feel...and to drink lots of punch!

XO, the Academy


White Lighting

Suzanne Pollak

It's never to early to be thinking of Winter cockails, especially when one friend gives you a GREAT gift and another, an even better idea! The gift was a large mason jar filled with Moonshine, and the idea was what to do with all that white whiskey.

Cameron Eubanks, star real estate agent and super star of Bravo’s Southern Charm, presented the Dean with a bottle of Moonshine made by one of her husband’s patients.  Another friend, who happens to be Director of the esteemed Metropolitan Museum's Collections, came for dinner, spied the hooch on the kitchen counter and immediately recommended soaking cherries in the elixir.  Is everyone at the Met a painting, sculpture AND cocktail expert? 

Being the ever-resourceful leader that the Charleston Academy requires, the Dean knows a genius idea when she hears one. Once the mason jar was opened, the aroma intoxicated in the most delicious way, defying hooch's longtime reputation as a toxic, radiator-strength, not-to-mention sometimes illegal, hillbilly concoction. By the following morning the counter in the Academy’s lab was covered with jars filled with cherries and white lightening. 

Twenty four hours later and tonight is the NIGHT to bite into the cherry (because who can follow Carrie’s advice and wait?) For a dinner party dessert, we'll serve a moonshine cherry sitting atop scoops of vanilla ice cream and roasted peaches for an Academy Sundae. The next taste will have to wait until October, Old Fashioned month, when we will serve our trademark cocktail in a flat-bottomed crystal glass, embellished with a twist of citrus, Party Ice, and cherries bursting with hooch.

P.S. POP QUIZ! What is the best part of attending class at the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits, besides learning how to live a more beautiful life? The answer: No other institution of higher learning starts class with a cocktail! 

Spring on the Table

Suzanne Pollak

What is the color of money, of envy, of Spring? 

The answer: a perfect party theme!

Antique soup plates...

Antique soup plates...

antique dinner plates...

antique dinner plates...

Ted Mueling salad plates (complete with bugs!)

Ted Mueling salad plates (complete with bugs!)

& a silver chalice, to reflect it all.

& a silver chalice, to reflect it all.

The Dean decided to give an all-green dinner party in honor of both the weather and the surname of an esteemed invitee. So, green plates, green cocktails, green foods became the theme of the night. Luckily the guest of honor was amused. His eyes twinkled when he heard that a theme was involved, and twinkled even more when he heard that the theme was no doubt his favorite color.

Generally themes are too silly to be discussed (with the exception of Halloween), but a green theme is not too serious. Maybe a little silly, but so what? It’s fun! Anything to please a guest, and any excuse to serve margaritas at cocktail hour.


  • Middle Eastern Watercress soup
  • Roasted King Salmon, with chive sauce, spring onions & sautéed asparagus
  • Micro-green salad with tiny croutons
  • Roasted pears with crunchy pistachios, saffron and green cardamon sauce

The centerpiece? Greens snipped from the public park across the street. Shhh...