The one, two punch of great entertaining
DRINKING

Words: Iain Griffiths & Kelsey Ramage   Illustration by Root + Bone

The one, two punch of great entertaining

The four flavour pillars of punch

 

There is something truly wonderful about the way we as humans enjoy gathering in a circle to share each other’s company: via the campfire, the lazy Susan, games night, the BBQ and so on. That ability to be present, in full view of one another, and let the conversation, drink and food flow freely is a pretty sure fire recipe for a great night.
 
In fact so well-known is this formula for success that there are many of us out there who feel more than a little daunted when charged with the responsibility of hosting a night that promises great revelry. What the hell is Karen’s latest diet about and who the feck invited Peter after last time? Depending how you split the responsibilities food often falls at the feet of the house while everyone else brings a bottle of plonk. It’s a safe formula that has stood the test of time.
 
However, when a casual night with friends becomes one of *THOSE* nights, your hosting prowess will be tested in the blink of an eye as the last half of the final bottle makes its way around. Nothing kills a vibe like the 180 up turn of the final bottle and the inevitable questions: “Should we pop to the shop and get more?” “Maybe some snacks as well?” “Who’s ready for something more than wine?”
It’s a total mood killer not only dividing the group but forcing some to take stock and consider what has already been drunk.
Enter you: the humble yet proud maître d of the night, who, with the blink of any eye, can slam out something to please the masses. That something is punch.
 
Now admittedly, punch is a category of cocktail but don’t let that put you off. The beauty of punch as the saviour of the night is many and varied. You can advance prep most parts and freeze them till they’re actually needed, meaning you don’t waste time and money: big tick. Bonus points for the fact you also don’t need to stress about thawing anything out. No need to shake or stir jack shit, and even that half full bag of ice at the bottom of the freezer you bought four months ago will still do the trick. You can keep it alcohol-free and allow everyone to add their own booze, meaning the spirits-loving contingent and those who want an alcohol-free tipple will all be pleased. Last but not least, you walk it into the middle of the table and forget about it, ensuring that conviviality and revelry carries on. Don’t we all love a good huddle around something tasty?
 
Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner!
 
There are phenomenal books out there on punch, from long-winded tomes on the history on the history of it all to modern day takes that are really more about entertaining than stroking your “home bartender” ego (our preferred reads are below). All will reveal the many different methods you can use to skin the proverbial punch cat – but the basics of a great punch are wu tang in their essence so remember they are not to be fucked with.
 
So next time your place is nominated as the dinner and drinks locale, and your near and dear gather in their favourite formations to celebrate each other, don’t be caught short. Punch is the secret to a wonderfully long night; in the end isn’t that the best sign of great entertainment?!
 
Reading list
 
 Punch by David Wondrich: 
The classic. Perhaps only necessary to history buffs and/or cocktail nerds, but can’t go unmentioned in this article.
 
Batched & Bottled by Max & Noel Venning: 
The owners of the glorious Three Sheets in East London have put out their own book on prepped-in-advance cocktails, and their advice and tips really are stunning.
 
Good Together: 
Drink & Feast with Mr Lyan & Friends by Ryan Chetiyawardana: This is a wonderful read, describing how to host for different occasions and ensure the drinks and food always go together perfectly.
 
Best Venues for punch
 
The Punch Room at EDITION London. Seriously, these kids take punch to another level and the setting is lush. If you can’t be arsed making your own, head down and grab a comfy armchair!
 
Recipe for Punch de Nacional
 
 This is one of our favourite recipes, and something we’ve served around the world. A punch variation of the Cuban classic cocktail the Hotel Nacional, we’ve also altered the formula to allow for the use of a liqueur. Normally you’d do two of sweet, aka a sugar syrup of some kind, but instead we’re doing ¾ of granulated sugar and one of liqueur. There will be a little less liquid in the final batch, but the sweetness will remain in balance.
 
Ingredients
 
 1 cup lemon juice
1 cup apricot liqueur (we like Merlet)
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 cup Havana Club 3
4 cup heavy brewed black tea
 
Method
 
 Add all ingredients to your chosen vessel when cold or frozen, stir till sugar dissolves. Add ice and serve!

 

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