Posted March 28, 2011

Bowled Over By Punch

Eat + Drink

Punch bowls are back. Not in the college-party way (aka: buckets of fluorescent mystery liquid), but in a sophisticated, olden-days fashion.

Punch dates back to the mid-1600s, where it likely originated on naval ships as the English and the Dutch traveled the world in search of land and exotic spices. The word “punch” actually derives from the Hindi word “panch,” which means “five.” This is because the drink was – and still usually is – made from only five ingredients.

Jacques Bezuidenhout, Master Mixologist

Cocktail lounges across the country, offer punch bowls for groups of 2-6 guests.

As you can imagine, punch is also great to serve at a party because it doesn’t take long to make and guests can help themselves so you’re not stuck mixing individual drinks the whole time.

If you want to make some at your next bash, I have a few suggestions.

Always use quality spirits.
The cheaper you go, well … the worse your hangover is. Keep in mind that punch always needs a base spirit (gin, tequila, rum, whiskey). As you get more adventurous you can combine a few, such as aged rum and cognac. Half the fun is playing around with recipes.

Balance sweet and sour.
You’ll need citrus (typically lime or lemon juice) for its acidity, as well as something sweet to counter that flavor. The sweetness can be in the form of granulated sugars, sugar in the raw, or even agave nectar. Other sweetners include quality liqueurs like Orange Curacao or St. Germain. Remember less is more, and try to balance sweet and sour equally.

Always use fresh juices.
Yes, squeezed that very day. And try to go with in-season fruits.

Ice is nice.
Everything will come to a cool finish when you drop a big block of ice in the bowl. The block helps slow dilution and won’t water down your punch within minutes like those little cubes from the local gas station will. Just get a handy Tupperware container, fill it up with water, and freeze it.

Garnishes, garnishes, garnishes.
Lastly, dress up your punch with garnishes that work with the rest of the flavors at play. In-season berries are always great choices, as are citrus peels. Spices, such as nutmeg, also lend a lovely aromatic finish.

Ready to lift those ladles? Here is a punch recipe that is a variation of a Pimm’s Cup.

Summer Cup Punch
(serves 6-8)

750 ml.  Partida Blanco tequila
250 ml.  Pimm’s
6 bottles (6.8-oz. size)  Fever Tree Ginger Beer
6 oz.  Fresh lime juice
Garnishes as desired (may include cucumber, lemon, orange and strawberry slices, as well as pickled mint)

Pour ingredients into a punch bowl, stir, add a block of ice, and garnish.

Trust me, it’s as easy as it sounds.

— Jacques Bezuidenhout


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