Friday @ 5: A cocktail to kick off the weekend

There's been so much booze arriving at Stew HQ in the past few weeks, it's scary.

It's the holiday push, of course -- spirits manufacturers rushing to get their stock in front of journalists now, to consider in the flurry of holiday coverage that lies ahead.

But more immediately, what to drink this weekend?

Halloween presents some interesting challenges (the most crucial: does your costume allow enough leeway to hold a drink and draw it to your lips?), namely due to the fact that for whatever reason, a certain population of marketers feel the need to promote drinks whose hue matches whatever holiday is on the horizon, with taste as an afterthought.

Hats off to Skyy, then, for giving its relatively new blood orange vodka (get it?!) a big push just before Halloween. A little desk drinking this afternoon led to the discovery that the stuff smells reminiscent of Crush orange soda, but the taste is subtle enough to lend a hand to fruity cocktails.

Regular Stew readers know we seldom condone the use of vodka, but Skyy's Infusions line is riding a successful streak of interesting flavors that lend themselves well to perking up punches, at the very least. Which is great news for those hosting parties this weekend: you're welcome.

Bloody Sheaffer Punch (original recipe)

2 parts lemon flavored mineral water
1 part Skyy Infusions Blood Orange vodka
1/2 part cinnamon-clove syrup
Aromatic bitters, to taste
2-3 blood oranges for garnish
2 dozen Cloves for garnish

In a chilled punch bowl filled with an ice ring or large block of ice, combine mineral water, vodka and syrup; flavor with several drops of bitters, to taste. Stud oranges with cloves, then slice and float atop punch. Serve immediately; ice will melt over time watering down your punch -- and making sure your guests don't get too tipsy.

To make cinnamon clove syrup: Fill saucepan with equal parts sugar and water and half-parts each of cinnamon sticks and whole cloves; simmer over heat and stir regularly, preventing your syrup from rising to a boil. When all sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain into a glass container and refrigerate before using.

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