A good party will always have diversity. You ought to have lots of different people in attendance to keep the conversations flowing or else it becomes an excruciatingly dull work party. If food is the point of the gathering then there ought to be options. And when it comes to alcohol, a stack of Tecate in the fridge and a half bottle of El Jimador Tequila just isn’t going to cut it. You need some real choices.
Punch is a great way to give people some respite from whatever they’ve been drinking. Its intention shouldn’t be to act as your staple drink. Think of it more like cheese: great as a side but who is really going to eat a 12 oz. lump of Gouda? Most people will be drinking beer or wine all night and should be using your punch as a fragrant cleaning solution for their palate, similar to that of a boozy toothpaste.
Here’s a quick guide to the basic rules of punch making so that your guests can enjoy a good drink without the ill side effects this Christmas.
Make Something Neutral
That essentially means no tequila, no gin and nothing too weird. Keep your craft bitters up on the shelf next to your Bog Myrtle-infused Campari. This is about keeping people liquored up and not giving their tongues an exhausting lecture in junipers and high-altitude roots.
Whisky, vodka, Everclear and rum are great for a big punch. If you plan your flavors correctly they tend to give themselves over willingly to whatever you put them in. Try to treat it like a light cocktail and have a hard liquor base, a syrup, a citrus zest and a lighter mixer (wine, beer, soda water, etc.) to bulk up the mass.
Keep It Light
People aren’t only going to be dipping into your punch all night. They’re also going to be drinking other things that may not mix well with your jungle juice so bear this in mind. Keep it light and refreshing if served cold and keep the alcohol content under control.
A friend of mine once described an excessive festive punch he concocted that caused a girl to fall asleep in his bathroom, a guy to pass out in his garden, and another got a DUI. You get the idea.
So take note: you can go way too far sometimes.
Ice and Soda
It’s generally best to keep the punch cold and to add the ice or soda (depending on your recipe) to each glass individually. You don’t need to dilute your cocktail with melted ice cubes nor do you need to take the fizz out of your soda by leaving it to wallow in juice. Add them later.
A five-gallon water cooler is the most efficient thing to dump your punch into. It keeps it cold and fresh while the little funnel that dispenses the drink is extremely useful. But we understand that your super cute, pre-Christmas turkey social needs something a little more elegant to showcase the proud punch. You can’t have some big clunky box that looks like it ought to have an injured linebacker leaning on it as the focal point of your adorable little party!
A bowl can’t hold as much fluid, it’s breakable and it’s more awkward for dispensing the juice, but OMG what a super-adorable bowl! Where did you get this? Oh my god, shut up! No way! I have to get one!