5 Fresh Ideas for Batched Drinks that’ll Pack a Punch this Summer
Freeze the ice mold and get that ladle at the ready; these seasonal recipes are sure to be a huge hit with guests.
Lazy summer days (and nights) are made for relaxed, convivial imbibing. In other words, ‘tis the season for punch bowls and pitcher cocktails, which keep guests cool in a big way. Right now bartenders are garnishing vessels with fragrant lemon verbena, infusing syrups with pineapple and cardamom and mixing brews with berries (and brine) for new variations on shareable sips.
Gin Punch a la Terrington
Recipe courtesy of Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.
Derek Brown’s new expanded cocktail den in Shaw recently launched a punch garden where guests can sip drinks like this libation that hails from William Terrington’s 1869 book Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks. Herbal and heady, it’s made with the same effort and care of a craft cocktail, but its hefty size can quench a thirsty crowd that much quicker. “It is fun to get the same drink and finish a pitcher or bowl,” says Brown. “I think that’s the appeal, having a drink together - and a very big one!”
- Peel of half a lemon
- ½ cup cane sugar
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 2 cups gin
- ¾ oz. Green Chartreuse
- 1-2 cups seltzer water
- Lemon verbena, for garnish (optional)
Combine the lemon peel and sugar until it forms a paste (you may leave this overnight in the refrigerator or muddle it until a paste forms.) Add the gin and Chartreuse, stir until all solids are dissolved, and remove the citrus peels. Chill with ice and add seltzer to desired taste. Serve from a punch bowl or pitcher, garnished with the lemon verbena if desired.
Adapted from a recipe courtesy of Punch House, Chicago, IL
Feni is an Indian spirit only produced in the town of Goa (hence the name for this punch) from either cashews or toddy palm. In this fragrant, exotic punch, manager Aaron Minnes sought to highlight it as a spirit. “I really looked into its history, how it’s crafted and how it’s enjoyed,” he explains. “This led me to Limca, a lemon-lime soda enjoyed in Indian, and I just thought, ‘There is something here.’” His version - light, refreshing and perfect for summer - employs soda water and oleo saccharum, and gets an added tropical kick from Guyana rum.
- 1 bottle Feni
- 6 ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
- 6 ½ oz. fresh lime juice
- Oleo saccharum (4 lemon peels added to 1 cup sugar, let stand to macerate)
- 6 ½ oz. pineapple cardamom syrup (see Note)
- 5 oz. Hamilton Rum
- 19 oz. cumin tea (see Note)
- 19 oz. soda water
In a large container, combine the oleo saccharum, cumin tea, lemon and lime juices and rum, and stir to incorporate the sugar. Set aside. In a second larger container, add the pineapple cardamom syrup, the Feni and 19 oz. soda water. Strain the contents of the first container into the second, give it a brisk stir to combine, then serve in a large bowl over an ice block.
For the pineapple cardamom syrup:
Combine half of a peeled sliced pineapple, 1 quart water, 1 quart sugar and 1 ½ tablespoons cardamom. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer five minutes. Set aside to cool, place in a container, chill overnight and strain out the solids.
For the cumin tea:
Toast 2 ½ tablespoons of cumin over low heat. Add 19 oz. of water, bring it to a boil and simmer the minutes. Remove from heat, cool and strain out solids.
Sulley House Punch
Recipe adapted from Drambuie
While you may not associate Drambuie (a mixture of scotch, heather honey, herbs and spices) and blended scotch with a summertime cocktail, both ingredients do just fine in this seasonal punch. Cucumber slices sprinkled with salt add a fresh brininess, while absinthe gives it a whiff of anise aroma. For the most natural flavor, use fresh pineapple juice rather than canned, and an English hothouse cucumber, which is larger and less bitter than its Persian counterpart and generally doesn’t have pesky seeds.
- 1 cucumber, peeled, sliced and sprinkled with coarse salt
- 1 750ml bottle Drambuie
- 8 oz. lime juice
- 8 oz. pineapple juice
- 8 oz. Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch
- 4 oz. absinthe
- Chilled soda water
- Cucumber slices and lime wheels, for garnish
In the bottom of a punch bowl, muddle the cucumber slices. Add the lime and pineapple juices, scotch and absinthe, and stir gently. Top with the soda water and garnish with the cucumber slices and lime wheels.
The 7th Cup
Recipe courtesy of The Sixth, Chicago, IL
The “Dealer’s Choice” drinks at another one of the restaurant’s concepts was the inspiration for this versatile, choose-your-own-adventure-style punch. “The 7th Cup gives the guests a perfect amount of control in an already proven cocktail,” says Benjamin Schiller, beverage director for The Fifty/50 Group. “The centerpieces frozen in the ice are amazing conversation pieces, while simultaneously being unique and beautiful.” Take a cue from The Sixth and display whimsical items in the ice, like floral bouquets, mint, lilies, Star Wars action figures or Tonka Trucks.
- 20 oz. base spirit (tequila, mezcal, gin, vodka or rum)
- 10 oz. aperitif bitter (Peychaud’s Aperitif, Aperol or Pimm’s No. 1)
- 10 oz. lemon juice
- 10 oz. simple syrup
- 15 oz. chilled sparkling wine
- 12 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Add all ingredients to a large punch bowl or serving vessel, stir gently, and add a block or mold of ice to chill.
2 Can Punch
Recipe courtesy of Adam Bernbach, 2 Birds 1 Stone, Washington, D.C.
Adam Bernbach, owner of this 14th Street basement bar, wanted to create a summery sipper with easy-to-find ingredients available to everyone; the result was this punch-beertail mashup. The inspiration? “I was thinking of canoeing with a cooler of canned ‘river beers,’” he says. “It’s pretty perfect for summer - it’s refreshing, a bit tart, a bit salty, and it’s light.” You can buy the pickle brine online at gordyspicklejar.com, or use the brine from your favorite jar of pickles (be sure to strain out any seeds or pickling spice first.)
- 12 oz. Gordy’s Fine Brine
- 12 oz. chilled lager (Tecate, Pacifico or Chang)
- 16 oz. strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 2 oz. lime juice
- 2 oz. sugar
- ½ oz. Angostura Bitters
- Strawberries and mint, for garnish
Add the brine, strawberries, lime juice and sugar to a blender, and puree until completely even in texture. Pour the mixture into a pitcher, add beer and bitters and stir. Add ice, and garnish with the strawberries and mint.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram@kmagyarics.