Fragrant blossoms and early strawberries spell springtime like nothing else. Before the days of air shipping, the arrival of those items heralded longer light and the end of winter, which, naturally, called for parties. More often than not, a punch was a fitting and fizzing centerpiece.
That’s why we turned to vintage cookbooks to help you capture the feeling at home. Here’s to retro springtime magic.
Built in a large pitcher, rather than a bowl, this punch can gets some added sweetness from grape juice. If your strawberries are perfectly ripe and sweet, however, you may not need to tweak what will already be a bright, lush beverage.
Adapted from The Cold Table, by Helen Simpson (Jonathan Cape, 1935)
Purée 4 pounds strawberries in blender. Pass purée through sieve, and pour juice into large jug with 2 cups grape juice, if using, and 1 bottle dry Riesling. Add lemon juice, to taste. Mix well and chill in refrigerator. To serve, add 1 bottle Champagne or Cava, and garnish each glass with whole strawberry.
The key to and truly seasonal ingredient in this traditional German May Punch spritz is called woodruff (Galium odoratum). It’s a fragrant herb that must be gathered before flowering. Look for it at farmers markets or specialty stores, or buy a small potted plant at your local nursery.
The original recipe doesn’t have strawberries, but a few slices add a touch of color.
Adapted from Der Neuzeitliche Haushalt, by Erna Horn (Verlag Albert Pröpster, 1957)
Place 10 sprigs fresh woodruff in punchbowl. Add half bottle of dry Riesling, and allow woodruff to infuse for 1 hour. Remove woodruff and discard. To serve, add remaining dry Riesling, 1 bottle of Riesling sekt and a 750-ml bottle sparkling water. Sweeten to taste with gomme or simple syrup, if desired. Garnish with more woodruff and strawberry slices.