These 3 punches will get the party started and keep it going


By Rebekah Peppler, The New York Times

Set a large bowl filled with punch in the center of a party and step back. Watch the merrymakers gather, the conversation flow and the awkward moments be thwarted through the offering of another ladleful.

This, after all, is the magic of a great punch, and, while punch’s exact origins remain unknown, revelers have enjoyed it since at least the 17th century and usually with a base formula of spirit (brandy, rum, whiskey, gin, arrack), sugar, citrus and spice.

Though preparing a punch is simple, it’s not a last-minute, thrown-together affair.

“Just like you would prep your meal, prep your drink,” said Jillian Vose, the former beverage director and bar manager at the Dead Rabbit, and the owner of Hazel and Apple, opening in Charleston, South Carolina, next year. “Make a checklist. Is my ice prepared? Do I have backup punch? Do I have enough sugar and citrus to fix any imbalances? Do I have enough of the soda or sparkling wine that I’m using to top?”

A deeply flavored, more complex punch starts with a citrus-and-sugar combination called oleo-saccharum: citrus peels (no white pith, please) muddled with sugar and allowed to sit for a few hours or preferably overnight for maximum infusion. “The oils give it another layer of flavor and brightness that you wouldn’t get just from citrus juice on its own,” Vose said.

From there, combine your oleo-saccharum with citrus juice and your spirit of choice, as well as water and other mixers to dilute the punch to drinkable levels.

Speaking of water, a punch truly isn’t finished without a frozen block (or blocks) of ice, which, with a little planning, is especially easy to make. Freeze filtered water in a Bundt pan (preferably silicone, though metal also works), an angel food cake pan, loaf pan, plastic quart container or even a bowl. Set in the bowl, the large block will melt leisurely, keeping punch chilled for hours. And should you decide to stud your ice with decorations, make them edible: citrus slices, seasonal berries and fruit, edible flowers, fresh herbs.


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