There are those few weeks when summer transitions into fall. The sun is warm, but the temperatures are cool so you need the right cocktail to match. This Pear Bourbon Punch checks all the boxes with the use of smooth bourbon and sweet pear juice for a shareable punch.
Pear Bourbon Punch is made with classic bourbon, cinnamon-spiced pear liqueur, and fresh pear juice. The vanilla, oaky notes of bourbon and the spiced liqueur give it a warming quality. The pear juice is an appealing alternative to all the apple-infused cocktails that are popular in the fall.
Before serving, the punch gets some fizz from a splash of club soda, keeping things light and refreshing. It’s a perfect-for-fall punch that is best shared with friends while snacking on roasted peanuts or smoked almonds.
History of the Punch
There’s historic evidence of punch dating back to the 1600s during the British East Indian spice trade. Punch is considered one of the world’s earliest cocktails.
According to drink historian, David Wondrich, it’s unclear whether the word punch came from its original five ingredients (punch is the Hindi word for five) or if it points to the short, fat oak cask called a puncheon, often used for serving punch. He believes it's more likely the latter.
Punch has evolved into a drink shared at small gatherings to larger celebrations. It typically has multiple servings in one batch.
Use Good-Quality or Fresh Pear Juice
If possible, use 100 percent pear juice, which may be stocked in the specialty or organic juice aisle. I’ve seen them at Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Farmers Market.
You could make your own pear juice in a juicer, but the punch will look a little cloudy because of the extra pulp. You’ll get even more fresh pear flavor than store-bought juice. In a cinch, use apple cider or apple juice.
The Best Way to Mix Punch
The days of a big punch bowl, a ladle, and fancy handled mugs isn’t practical anymore, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options.
My Preference: I prefer to mix the alcohol and pear juice together in a large pitcher or mason jar, then set the club soda next to it for my guests to make their own cocktail as strong as suits their preference.
For the Party People: If you’re the kind of party host who wants to have everything ready with no mixing required. You can combine the alcohols, pear juice, and club soda together and set it out without worrying about each guest mixing their own drink. You will just need a pitcher or drink dispenser that can hold at least 50 ounces. Just wait to add the club soda right before your guests arrive for maximum fizz.
For Those Who Travel: If you’re bringing this drink to serve at someone else’s cookout or party, then mixing the alcohol and juice in a lidded vessel, like a mason jar, works great. Either stir with a long cocktail spoon or secure the lid and give it a quick shake, then add the club soda.
Best Brand of Bourbon to Use
I lived for 10 years in Kentucky near major bourbon distilleries, so I’ve created a list of my favorite. A high-quality and affordable mixing bourbon is what I suggest here. No need to break the bank with a top-shelf bourbon.
Jim Beam is smooth with all the key tasting notes, such as sweet vanilla and oak, that are so appealing about bourbon. It’s a high-quality, affordable mixing bourbon. It works well here and in mixed drinks like bourbon and ginger ale. Four Roses Original (previously called Four Roses Yellow Label) is another great option.
You could use whiskey or rye, but it won’t have the same flavor. Bourbon is smooth, usually with notes of toasted vanilla and oak and a subdued hint of peppery spice. Rye and whiskey often have more of a bold, spicy bite to them without the sweetness that is found in bourbon.
What is St. George Spirits Pear Liqueur?
This is a liqueur made from pear brandy distilled straight from the fruit and has lovely notes of cloves and cinnamon. It’s ideal for sipping as-is or for cocktails. It can be found online or at well-stocked liquor stores.
If unavailable, opt for a pear brandy or pear liqueur made with fruit and not artificial pear flavoring. If using a pear brandy, combine 7 ounces of it with 1 ounce of a cinnamon-flavored spirit like cinnamon schnapps to imitate the St. George Spirits Pear Liqueur.
Best Glassware for Serving Pear Bourbon Punch
A simple tumbler is the best glassware for this punch. I like it served without ice, but if you prefer it chilled, serve it over ice.
Thinly sliced pears make a nice garnish for this cocktail. You could dice the pear and add it to each glass like a sangria. A cinnamon stick is a fun addition, too.
More Bourbon Cocktails to Try
Pear Bourbon Punch
Make the punch base without the club soda 2 to 3 hours before serving. Keep it refrigerated in a large pitcher. When ready to serve, add the club soda.
- 12 ounces bourbon
- 12 ounces 100 percent pear juice, chilled
- 8 ounces St. George Spirits Spiced Pear Liqueur
- 16 ounces club soda, chilled
- Sliced pears for garnish
Prepare the punch mix:
Pour the bourbon, pear juice, and pear liqueur in a jar or pitcher that holds at least 32 ounces. Stir it to combine or if you used a lidded jar, secure the lid and shake well.
Serve the cocktail:
Pour 4 ounces of punch mix into a tumbler. Top with 2 ounces of club soda. You can add more or less, depending on your preference.
An alternative: Combine the bourbon, pear juice, pear liqueur, and club soda together in a drink dispenser or pitcher that holds at least 50 ounces.
Garnish the punch:
Garnish each tumbler with thinly sliced pear before serving.
I don't add ice to this drink because it's punch and it's delicious at room temperature, but if it's hot where you are or you prefer ice feel free to set an ice bucket out so your guests can add it to their drinks if it's what they prefer.