Since the show ended in 2003, there’s been a regrettable lack of SMG on my teevee, and it was a given that I’d be watching when she finally returned to television in Ringer (one of the shows I watch with an open, un-guilty amount of pleasure; others in this category include RuPaul’s Drag Race and Hart of Dixie.) If you like murders, secret-keeping, identity-swapping identical twins, the hotness of Ioan Gruffudd, and self-aware campiness that leads to episode titles like “What Are You Doing Here, Ho-Bag?”, please do watch.
As she’s playing both an ex-drug addict/prostitute on the run from a murderous kingpin and her twin sister who’s ditched her expensive Upper East Side life by faking her own death and is now clumsily plotting nefarious deeds (in a nutshell), Sarah Michelle Gellar doesn’t have too many opportunities to slay anything on the show. But she briefly got to unleash the kickass in an episode last month, clocking a guy in the face with a fist-meets-chin tiny blonde furor that was so Buffy it hurt.
The awesome moment was quickly immortalized as the Buffy Punch in an email discussion with Fug Girls Heather and Jessica, and just as quickly decided it also made a stellar name for a drink that’s kind of vapid at first glance, but which totally knocks you on your ass. And so I present The Buffy Punch in cocktail form. The recipe is based on a shrub, a Colonial-era drink that came into being as a method of preserving in-season fruits. Traditionally, whole fruit is macerated in vinegar and sometimes sugar or alcohol to break down the skins and pulp, and form a sweet but tangy syrup.
Some shrub recipes use heat to soften and infuse the fruits, boiling and straining away the jammy bits, but this citrus version, inspired by a blood orange shrub featured on Food in Jars, uses cold, freshly squeezed juice. With a little bit of heat that leaves a lingering burn in your throat and the vinegar’s tart, savory undertones, it’s a surprisingly complex taste.
Like its namesake, the Buffy Punch seems simple—almost too simplistic—and unassumingly girly on the surface. But don’t underestimate it.
The Buffy Punch
Total time: 45 minutes plus overnight chill time
Makes a little more than 1 quart
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star anise pod, crushed
- 2 cups freshly squeezed and strained pink grapefruit juice (from about 2 pink grapefruits)
- 1 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 Thai chili, sliced into rounds
- 1 cup Hendrick’s gin
- seltzer for mixing (optional)
Pour the sugar into a small saucepan and add the bay leaf, star anise, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and remove from heat when the syrup is clear. Cover and let steep for at least 30 minutes as the syrup cools to room temperature.
Strain the syrup and whisk into the grapefruit juice and vinegar in a large pitcher or Mason jar. Whisk in the cayenne pepper or drop in the chili slices.
Stir in the gin and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to a week to let the flavors meld. The vinegar aromas will be almost too powerful when first mixed, but will mellow out and blend with the companion flavors over time.
Serve over the rocks for a bracing Buffy Punch, or mix with seltzer as desired for a less punchy version—a Buffy Caress, if you will.