Up until recently I thought Punch was the name of a pretty specific drink. To my reckoning, Punch was mostly to be recognised by the fact that it was served in a bowl – preferably one that has little cups hanging off the sides of it, or little matching cups at least. It also needed to have a big ladle in it and bits and pieces of fruit floating around in it in a slightly dejected manner. It didn't really matter what the colour was to me, the fact that it was in a bowl and was served with a ladle meant that I probably wasn't going to want to try it. After all it's not really Punch unless someone spikes it with something, which I'm sure isn't going to improve the flavour, even if it does improve the alcohol content.
But I'm big enough to admit when I'm wrong. And I was wrong about Punch. My learning curve started when I was tasked as the Punch mixologist of a wedding reception. This was not a job I was interested in being bequeathed with, why couldn't I just be in charge of balloons or make the invitations? But you can't turn down wedding related responsibilities and so I had to beef up on Punch.
Turns out there are Punch recipes, it's not just a matter of throwing in whatever you have left over in your drinks cabinet that no one wants to drink and then mixing in a bit of juice and some tinned fruits! And that's not all, there are people who take refining these recipes seriously, blending them with a tenderness and precision that I usually reserve only for martinis. This is because you can make Punch based in a range of different alcohols and with a range of different added flavours. Turns out you don't even HAVE to serve it in a bowl – but if you don't people will probably think it's a proper cocktail, not Punch (before I would have thought this was a good way to disguise people into drinking it, but now I'm converted to the fruity mixture.).
After trialling a large selection of Punches to find the most suitable for the wedding – has to be able to be made in large quantities, mix well and not be too festive looking – I can recommend these as four of the best. I served all of them, in appropriate glasses. And everyone thought they were getting cocktails.
Rum Punch This is the traditional sort of punch, usually made with Planters Rum – but you can use any dark rum you like. These are the ingredients per drink, so multiply them per serving. 2 oz orange juice 1½ oz pineapple juice oz lime juice 2 oz dark rum
1 dash of Grenadine
They all go in together and get mixed up and should be poured into glasses which are already filled with ice and garnished with an orange slice and a cherry
Tastes like a giant Tequila Sunrise – this one is supposed to be served in a bowl. This is the ratio of ingredients for each serving again:
1 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup tequila
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/6 cup sugar
Mix the OJ and the sugar until the sugar dissolves then add the tequila and lemon juice and then pour it all over ice. Of course you can serve these in their own glasses as well if you want – probably garnished with lemon and orange slices. It doesn't look like much, but it's very tasty and easy to make lots of.
This is the first recipe I found – makes sense to be serving Champagne Punch at a wedding as everyone is probably already drinking champagne. It's not as simple as the other recipes though, and does need to be made in a batch so that it mixes properly. These are the ingredients:
1 litre of peach nectar
180ml frozen orange juice
½ cup peach brandy
¼ cup grenadine syrup
3 bottles of champagne
¼ cup lemon juice
950ml carbonated water
In this recipe you need to combine everything that's not fizzy first, then add the champagne and water. Make sure it's all super cold before you start mixing, 'cause there's no ice, and serve it in those 'bowl' champagne glasses if you can, garnished with a slice of fresh peach.
Bajan Rum Punch
This one surprised me – it doesn't look like Punch at all, but it's one of the oldest recipes around so I tried it and it's very good. These are the ingredients:
4 cups water
3 cups Cockspur Rum
2 cups sugar syrup (simple syrup)
1 cup lime juice
a few dashes of Angostura Bitters
It's made in a jug and served over ice then the nutmeg is sprinkled on top.