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Packing a Punch

March 7, 2011

I remember more than once, while in college,  bellying up to a homemade punch bowl made from a trash can or kiddie swimming pool that was filled with a vile combinations of booze (that always including Everclear), various kool-aids, from-concentrate fruit juices, some bargain carbonated beverage, and a host of oddities and add-on like fake cherries and bubble gum.  Designed for Frats by Frats to quickly inebriate partygoers, curve judgement, and spread legs.

Don’t get me wrong, I was up for the game and willingly participated in all the festivities.  I might not have given sober circumstances, but I have no regrets. and even fewer memories…….

Punches are actually one of the most versatile, and oldest drinks on the books,served in large bowls with elaborate fair (not bubblegum), and when done with a little class (not in leiu of..), they are a great way to entertain partiyrs using craft mixology without being tied down to the bar.

There is an old rhyme that describes the basic punch

One of Sour

Two of Sweet

Three of Strong

Four of Weak

On a single serving this recipe would be:

  • 1/2 oz citrus
  • 1 tablespoon suger
  • 1 1/2 oz spirit of choice
  • 2 oz mixer

Oh,  that make sense….. doesn’t it?  Good!

Now I wanted to start with that basic understanding becasue when we expenad this to large batches, many find that ingredient amounts to be overwhelming.  But fear not getting punched.  It’s worth staying with the basic recipe.  On o the ingredients.

One of Sour:  Lemon, lime, key lime, orange, Manderin, tangerines, clementines, grapefruit, yuzu, kumquats

Two of Sweet:  Cane sugar, brown sugar, molasses, demerarra sugar, honey, maple syrup (the real stuff only, please), Agave Nectar, jam, sweet wines like port, maderia, or sherry, fruit liqueurs or schnapps

Three of Strong:  This is your booze or some combo of.  Vodka ( okay maybe not), Gin, Bourbon, Brandy, Tequila, Rum, Scotch, regional whiskey, cachaça, mescal, you name it

Four of Weak: Club Soda, Tonic Water , Lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, ginger beer, sparkling cider, champagne, wine, water, fruit juice, tea….the list is endless.

Is you brain running mad with ideas and combinations?  It should be.  The possibilities and combinations are endless and this works with cold as well as hot (yes hot) punches.  The only thing you’re missing  now is an occasion.

So, now lets; expand our recipe to a usable size for a party with a punch bowl:

1 cup (8oz) citrus

2 cups (16 oz) sugar

3 cups (24 oz) booze

4 cups (32 oz) mixer (a liter is fine)

Yeah I know that sounds like a lot of sugar, but that’s why we looked at the individual proportions first.  Remember??

Couple thing to remember when making a punch.

Don’t use small ice!  Make a large ice mold in a bundt pan or milk jug cut in half.  You can add decorative fruits or herbs in the ice.  I like to make the ice mold reflecting the flavors inside the punch.

Get a sexy punch bowl.  Lets face it a tupperware bowl makes you look cheap.  I will, however not knock using the kiddy pool here for an pool party.  Just make it match the moment.

Don’t use paper cups.  Punches were originally and properly served in punch cups made of glass or metal with a handle.  Unless safety is a concern, stick with this.  Again match the occasion.

Be creative: There are so many things you can do to jazz up your punch like adding herbs, or fresh berries.  A dash of bitters and a touch of allspice is tasty as well.

Don’t let the bad memories of that one time you did that one thing keep you from exploring the endless possibilities that make up a great punch.

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