Jeff Grindley was our masterful bartender at Atomic Liquors in Las Vegas last month. Our review of our great visit to the bar is here. Jeff kindly volunteered to write a guest post for us and chose a topic we’ve left sorely uncovered – punches. So, here’s some advice on how to make easy punches at home from a pro. Thanks, Jeff!
When it comes to the love of libations, there’s so much overlap between the home bartender and the working bartender. We enjoy seeing people happy, have a desire to share what we’ve learned with others and, let’s face it, we like to be the center of attention; the life of the party! The overlap doesn’t stop there, since life doesn’t ever go exactly as planned. Some nights you just aren’t up to the task at hand, but the party must go on!
Thankfully, behind the bar, we have a secret weapon for such occasions that is a knock out every time (I couldn’t resist!), the PUNCH. Or as I like to call it: The twinkle in the eye of humanity that gave birth to the cocktail. Punch has been around, at least, since spice traders of East India Trading Co. started softening their harsh spirits with tea, juices, and any spices that they encountered on their travels. Punch continues to lift the spirit of the guests and host alike with its soulful simplicity. Pleasing the many with delicious and dazzling dram that serves itself and can be thrown together with minimal effort. In addition, it gives you the ability to finally use some of that stuff that has been haunting the dark corners of the liquor cabinet since you graduated college (has it been THAT long?!). Punch is so easy, that if you lose the recipe in the stormy seas of bartending, there is an easy rhyme that will guide you right back to dry land!
“One of Sour
Two of Sweet
Three of Strong
Four of weak”
Notice the “four” of weak part. Punch should be social and lead to long conversations around the bowl, not long conversations with the porcelain one. The strength should be equal to a fortified wine; not too strong.
I’ve included two punches that come straight out of one of the best programs in cocktail education that I’ve had the pleasure of receiving, BARSMARTS.COM. These templates encourage testing, tasting, and tampering. Examples of this would be: substituting sugar for liqueurs, swapping out water for tea, and adding bitters. Also, use an ice block in the cold punch for minimal dilution but optimal temperature. Let the dilution happen in the cup by pouring over fresh ice in the cup! Keep the hot punch in a crock pot to keep it nice and warm. Take the night off and relax by the fire or in the pool all night long, saving the stress for another day.
Hot Whiskey Punch, (Irish and Scottish)
- 750 ml Irish Whiskey
- 1 Lemon
- 2 oz Sugar
- 1-1/2 qts water
Peel a lemon, trying to get as little as possible of the white pith. In a heatproof bowl, pot or jug, muddle the peel of the lemon in 2 ounces of sugar. Set a quart and a half of water to boil. Add about 8 ounces of the boiling water to the sugar and stir well. This should warm up the bowl and dissolve the sugar. Add a 750 ml bottle of Irish whiskey, or Scotch for Scottish Punch, then add the rest of the water, tasting as you go to make sure that it does not become too diluted. The Punch should be kept warm for service; a Crockpot or a heatproof bowl on a hot plate should do the trick. Yield: 9 cups
- 1 qt Brandy
- 4 Lemons
- 8 oz Lemon Juice
- 1 cup fine-grained Sugar
- Grated nutmeg
- 2 qts water
Peel 4 lemons, trying to get as little as possible of the white pith. Muddle the peels in one cup of fine grained raw sugar. After the lemon oil has been extracted by the sugar, (this process generally takes half an hour to an hour) muddle again and remove the skins. Add 8 ounces of lemon juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add one quart Brandy and two quarts cool water. Grate some fresh nutmeg on top. Yield: 9 cups