Photo by Jennifer Pallian via Upsplash
The success of most parties hinges on the quality and amount of booze served and, while serving a big bowl of punch is easier on the host or hostess, serving a punch that people will keep coming back to it is a little trickier. A good punch is so balanced that one might not even realise there was any ethanol floating around in there, and we’re going to show you how to make a really good one. (You should, of course, always tell people if you’re serving them booze.)
It’s Evil Week at Lifehacker, which means we’re looking into less-than-seemly methods for getting shit done. We like to think we’re shedding light on these tactics as a way to help you do the opposite, but if you are, in fact, evil, you might find this week unironically helpful. That’s up to you.
Lethal Strategy #1: Treat it like a giant cocktail
A good cocktail is properly diluted and balanced, and the same is true of a bowl of punch. Rather than deal with oleo saccharums and the like, take a page out of Death & Co.’s book and treat the thing like the giant cocktail that is. You should definitely read the book and try their recipes, but their method can be used to create a punch out of almost any alcohol. To make a big ol’ bowl of balanced booze, you will need:
- 12 sugar cubes
- 235ml club soda
- 175ml of your main spirit
- 175ml of liqueur and citrus juice (Either a 50/50 mix of one liqueur and one juice or one part liqueur and one part two different juices, mixed.)
- 4 dashes or so of bitters, if you like
- Appropriate garnishes
Grab a giant pitcher muddle the sugar cubes in there with 85.05g of the club soda. Add everything except the remaining soda to the pitcher, and fill it 3/4-full with ice. Stir with a big spoon until chilled, then strain it into a punch bowl — use a colander — over a very large block of ice. Top with the remaining soda and garnish with your fancy fruit.
Lethal Strategy #2: Get the hot stuff
I don’t mean “spicy” hot, I mean “overproof” hot. I mean “bottles with an ABV of 50% or greater,” hot. Here are some good ones that pack a wallop without evoking memories of isopropyl:
- Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
- Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof
- Old Grand Dad 114 Bourbon
- Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin
- Any overproof rum by Plantation
Keep in mind that there’s no reason you have to stick to one bottle, or even one spirit. Brandy goes great with bourbon or rye, gin gets along with tequila, and rum will partner up with anyone. If you need inspiration, look to the tiki drink, and remember: “What one rum can’t do, three rums can.”
Lethal Strategy #3: Infuse it all
Tea-infused vermouth, citrus-infused anything, or even coconut oil-infused gin, can all mellow out a punch’s boozy bite without watering it down.
- To infuse any 750-milliliter bottle with tea, just add three tablespoons of the loose leaf stuff to the alcohol, then let it hang out at room temperature for a couple of hours before straining the plant parts out.
- If you have a sous-vide set up, you can infuse spirits with citrus peels in a matter of hours. (We show you how here.)
- To give a subtle coconut flavour to any spirit, simply add a cup of unrefined coconut oil to the 750 milliliters of spirit in a large jar, shake it up, and let it infuse for 12 hours in the fridge. The next day, remove the solid oil from the top of the your gin, rum, or whatever, strain through something very fine, and re-bottle.
If none of this strikes your fancy, you can always just mix grain alcohol with a litre of Hawaiian Punch. It’s not exactly balanced but, speaking from experience, it is extremely lethal.