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Add Some Punch 

by Sheila Swerling-Puritt

Everyone loves the late spring. The weather gets friendly and coaxes the buds, leaves and flowers to full wakefulness (especially this spring), and rouses us to the possibility of parties. June sparkles with graduation parties, wedding receptions and fundraisers, and in a pinch you can celebrate the birthdays of the Dionne quintuplets or Cole Porter. (My grandmother taught me about those people when I was a little girl...). 

Punch is the perfect potable for relaxed entertaining, especially when you've brought together a crowd requiring a large volume of tipple. Count on your average guest to drink two or more servings of punch and be sure to have enough of the libation on hand. Keep a back-up pitcher in the refrigerator and a block of ice in the freezer to help refill the punch bowl as required. Forget ice cubes; they melt too quickly.

Punch is meant to be highly personal, so don't hesitate to tweak it to taste with your favourite liquor, juice or fresh fruit. Fresh is a key word for punch pros, so make sure your ingredients are well chilled before you start mixing them. Add any sparkling component last to keep its fizz vigorous, and then add the block of ice. You have the option of decorating your ice with edible leaves (mint) or berries or you can just leave it clear. Speaking of clear, if possible use bottled water and you won't get cloudy ice.

You can encourage moderation by serving more substantial food with your punch than the usual snacks and by offering interesting alcohol-free drinks to designated drivers. If your punchy party is an evening event, offer decaf coffee. Friends don't let their friends drive overserved.

Here are some punch recipes to help you enjoy the party season. If you don't have punch cups, use 8 oz. wine glasses, just don't overfill.

 
Caribbean Punch

25 6-ounce servings 

  • 1 ripe pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 8 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice (optional)
  •  1 750 mL bottle Ron Matusalem light rum
  • 1 750 mL bottle Lamb's Black Sheep Spiced Rum
  • 32 oz. pineapple juice
  • 48 oz. orange juice
  • 12 oz. ginger ale 

Thinly slice half of the peeled, cored pineapple and set aside. Cut the remaining pineapple half into ½ inch cubes. Place the cubes in a blender and add 4 oz. of the lemon juice, simple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. Blend on high speed; pour the mixture into a large punch bowl.

Add the remaining 4 oz. lemon juice, rums, pineapple juice, orange juice and ginger ale. Stir well. Add 1 large block of ice. Float the reserved thinly cubed pineapple on top of the punch.

 
Apricot Punch

30 5oz. servings 

  • 1/8 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 3/8 cup frozen lemon juice concentrate
  • 5 cups chilled apricot nectar
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1 750 mL bottle chilled sweet Muscat wine
  • 1 750 mL bottle chilled Captain Morgan light rum
  • 1 large block of ice
  • 2 litres chilled lemon-lime soda
  • Garnish: 1 orange and 1 lemon seeded and thinly sliced into quarter slices; 12 maraschino cherries, sliced in halves

Thaw the frozen juice. Combine all liquid ingredients (except the lemon-lime soda) into a punch bowl. Add the ice and soda, then the garnish just before serving.

For more information, you can contact Sheila at spuritt@hotmail.com.

 

 

 

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