When influential bartender Dick Bradsell made the Russian Spring Punch for the first time, he had no idea how vicious the concoction was. According to him, at the party for which he created the cocktail, "people started falling from stairs and dancing around in wild abandon."
One reason the Russian Spring Punch is such a knock-out of a cocktail is the fact that it intentionally does not follow the principles of a punch but still looks like a light sip.
Quick Facts Russian Spring Punch
- Method: shaken
- Flavor profile: fruity, boozy, slightly dry
- How to serve it: over ice
- Best glassware: highball glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 15%, 27 grams of alcohol per serving
Traditionally, you make a punch according to the punch formula:
"One sweet, two sour, three strong, and four weak." The Russian Spring Punch does obey the first three but not the weak part. So instead of non-alcoholic ingredients like fruit juice or soda, the cocktail gets topped with champagne.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Cocktail Shaker
- 1 Hawthorne Strainer
- 1.5 oz Vodka
- 0.5 oz Creme de cassis
- 0.75 oz Lemon juice
- 0.5 oz Simple syrup
- 1.5 - 2 oz Brut Champagne
- Pour all ingredients except the Champagne into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.1.5 oz Vodka, 0.5 oz Creme de cassis, 0.75 oz Lemon juice, 0.5 oz Simple syrup
- Shake until well-chilled and strain into an ice-filled glass.
- Top up the drink with Champagne, and it's ready to be served.1.5 - 2 oz Brut Champagne
About the Ingredients of the Russian Spring Punch
In 1998 the late Dick Bradsell told Class Magazine how he created the drink. Served in a Collins glass, he used 50ml of vodka, 25ml lemon juice, two teaspoons of simple syrup, and two teaspoons of cassis.
He topped the cocktail with champagne and garnished it with a slice of lemon and fresh berries. -And that's still what you need to create a Russian Spring Punch: Vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, Creme de cassis, and a bottle of bubbly.
Crème de Cassis is a slightly sour, fruity black currant liqueur that you also need to make the Kir and the Kir Royal. If you want a recommendation, I like to use Drillaud. It is excellent value for money.
The bubbly does not have to be champagne. A good Prosecco or Cava also works. But make it a quality one with high carbonation. Otherwise, your drink will fall flat, and it has a reputation to live up to!
Tips for Mixing
There are three main things to keep in mind when mixing the Russian Spring Punch:
- First, you want your drink to be ice cold - so mix and serve with plenty of ice and keep the champagne in the fridge before topping up your cocktail.
- Second, you want your drink to be refreshing and fizzy. Therefore, when using Prosecco (a very common choice for this recipe), use a spumante, not a frizzante. - And one that you opened only recently too.
- Use fresh lemon juice from fresh, ripe lemons. Bottled juice from concentrate is a real let-down in cocktails as it never delivers on the tangy taste of fresh fruit.
History of the Russian Spring Punch Cocktail
The cocktail has its origins in London in the 1980s. The exact year remains a secret because not even his inventor seems to remember it. However, according to Bradsell, it was definitely before his daughter was born in 1988.
Bradsell thought up the recipe for the drink for two of his friends. They wanted to throw a fancy cocktail party but didn't have the funding. Therefore, Bradsell recommended asking their guest to bring a bottle of champagne each, and he would create a special cocktail using it.
That way, the guests would cover the lion's share of expensive ingredients themselves. Plus, they would be responsible for the quality of their drink. Poor bubbly would consequently lead to a lower-quality cocktail.
Bradsell prepared glasses and filled each with a mix of vodka, lemon juice, sugar, cassis, and ice. Each person could use up the bottle they brought and as many vodka shots as they could handle.
What happened was wild. The punch was a lot stronger than what it looked or tasted like - and way too easy to drink. Allegedly, people soon lost control and started dancing like crazy, falling down the stairs, etc., etc. According to Bradsell, the scenery must have been epic.
Why it's called Russian Spring Punch
Bradsell revealed how he came up with the name for the cocktail.
First, as the drink loosely builds on the principle of a classic punch, he wanted to include that in the name. -Even though omitting the weak part makes this one hell of a punch.
Using vodka as the base spirit led to the term 'Russian'. Further, because the whole drink is reminiscent of a Fizz or Collins drink (both are spring cocktails), Bradsell came up with the 'Spring' part in the name.
For more drinks with sparkling champagne, try these recipes: