Beat the Heat with Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks
As the dog days of summer press down on us, it’s only natural to feel a little parched. There’s no better way to beat the heat than with an array of large-batch cocktails and drinks, and that’s exactly what Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks offers. The title, written by Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia, pulls inspiration from fresh, seasonal fruits, plus herbs and spices. Classic cocktails are reimagined as new sips, like Julep-Tea Punch, Lychee Mojito Punch, Old-Fashioned Manhattan Punch and Mai Tai Punch. But we can’t get enough of the drinks from the Height of Summer section, especially the Peachy Moonshine, Spiked Spa Water and Watermelon-Tequila Punch (pictured above; recipe below for you to try at home).
Before you dip into any of the recipes, keep in mind these tips and tricks for working with fresh cocktail ingredients and various spirits:
- The tartness of citrus fruit varies considerably from backyard tree fruit to purchased fruit from the farmers market or the grocery store. Hyper-fresh backyard citrus will have a more intense flavor.
- Unless the recipe specifies, you do not need to peel the fruit or vegetables. In many cases the peel or rind of a fruit adds a note of necessary bitterness to counter the sweeter meat of the fruit, and also helps infuse the lunch with more aromatic flavors.
- Brands of alcohol also vary considerably. In order to get the right balance, add the amount of liquor called for in the recipes (the smaller amount if a range is listed). If, after tasting, you want a more potent mix, add more liquor by the tablespoonful to taste.
- Some folks really prefer sweet drinks. If a recipe calls for a flavored syrup or sugar, a little more can be stirred into the mix, but start with the recommended amount.
For large batches of punch, Kelley and Tenaglia suggest using an ice mold to keep the beverage cool for everyone enjoying it. Ice molds give you a great opportunity to add some visual interest to your punch bowl, too. Fruits, herbs and even edible flowers can all be added to an ice mold to decorate your drink table. Here are some of the ice mold-making tips you’ll find in Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks:
- Punch bowls vary considerably in size. Before making an ice mold, measure the width of your punch bowl. Choose a mold that is at least three inches smaller than the width of the punch bowl so it will easily fit inside.
- If you don’t have a plastic or silicone mold made for the purpose, try a Bundt pan, ring mold, souffle dish or bowl.
- Make the ice mold at least one day ahead so the ice freezes solid. The ice mold will last in the freezer for about one month; just leave it in its container and cover it with foil to help prevent freezer burn.
Grab your favorite shades and mix yourself a cold one; there’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy, and with this book you’ll want to slurp up every last moment of summer sunshine you can. You can order your own copy of Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks here.
After scooping out the watermelon, turn the empty shell into a punch bowl. Be sure to make this in summer, when watermelon is in season and at its sweetest. Don’t skip the chile salt rim on the glasses, as it balances the drink perfectly.
Cut off the top third of the long side of the watermelon. Cut a small slice off the rind of the opposite side so it can stand upright. Scoop out the flesh into a large bowl; refrigerate the watermelon “bowl” until ready to serve.
Working in batches, puree the watermelon in a blender. Strain the pureed watermelon through a sieve set over a large bowl. Mix 5 cups of the watermelon juice with the tequila, lime juice and sugar in a large pitcher. Refrigerate until cold.
Pour the punch into the watermelon bowl. Float lime slices on top. Fill rimmed glasses with ice. Ladle punch over the ice, and garnish with lime wedges.
Mix 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 3/4 teaspoon ground ancho or New Mexico chile on a plate. Run a lime wedge around the rim of each glass. Dip the glasses in the chile salt.
Reprinted from Punch Bowls & Pitcher Drinks: Recipes for Delicious Big-Batch Cocktails by Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia. Copyright © 2015 by Clarkson Potter/Publishers. Photos by Andrea Bricco. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.