Fresh Strawberry Punch

Fresh Strawberry Punch

1/3 cup sugar

12 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled, halved or quartered if large (about 3 cups), divided

1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, divided

1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, divided

1 1/2 cups apple juice

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 12-ounce cans club soda

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, strawberries (save ½ cup for garnish), ginger and basil (save 1 teaspoon for garnish). Using a muddler or pestle, mash these ingredients together, until all the juice has been extracted from the strawberries, and the ginger and basil are incorporated. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely slice the remaining basil.

When the berry mixture is ready, extract all the juice, discarding leftover pulp.

In a large punch bowl, or pretty vase, combine the berry mixture with the remaining ingredients. Stir and serve over ice.

You may substitute brandy for the apple juice, using the same proportions.