Anybody can ice down a cooler of beer or a chill a few bottles of rosé for an outdoor party. But as I wrote on Wednesday, preparing a large-format punch or pitchers of drinks for your guests is a way to bump up the celebratory spirit without sapping your own time to mingle.
The Plymouth Pilgrims' Punch doesn't have much of a back story. Created by drinks writer David Wondrich as a mashup of several recipes from Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks, from 1869, and included in his book Punch (and also in the sadly departed Gourmet as Gowanus Club Gin Punch, and slightly revamped at Gilt Taste as the Golden Fleece Punch), the punch is composed of a few simple, though flavorful, ingredients. It's also relatively easy to prepare (though there is some work involved), and its flavor is just exciting enough for adventurous tipplers without being so potent, funky or generally weird that it could scare off casual imbibers.
You do need to plan in advance, though—the punch is sweetened and made lusciously rich with pineapple syrup, which doesn't require a lot of work but does take some time to soak. And don't be turned off from the punch if you don't have or don't like yellow Chartreuse; simply substitute another liqueur, preferably a good one (in other words, nix on the Apple Pucker), and you'll have the accent you're looking for.
This recipe makes around 14 cups of punch, and is easily doubled or tripled depending on the size and thirst of your party. If you're serving it all at once to a big crowd, you can simply knock everything together except for the fizz, chill it in the fridge, add the soda at the last minute and serve it over ice.
If it's a smaller gathering, though, and your punch might be consumed over an afternoon, you have a couple of options: one is to put everything into a punch bowl (better yet, use an insulated beverage cooler—it fits the barbecue-casual vibe well, and has the added benefit of keeping the bugs out of the booze), and add a large chunk of ice (simply fill a metal mixing bowl or similar container with water and place in the freezer overnight); or, combine everything except the club soda and chill it in the fridge, then ration it out in pitchers to which you'll add the club soda just prior to serving, and keep it cool with a large chunk of ice made by filling a clean juice-concentrate container with water and freezing overnight.
Made with a little care, the punch is cold, fizzy, flavorful, and just strong enough to get the party started.
- 4 cups demerara sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced
- 3 lemons, washed
- 2 ounces superfine sugar
- 3 bags green tea
- 1 quart hot water
- 1 liter Plymouth gin
- 1 ounce yellow Chartreuse or other liqueur of your choice
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 liter chilled seltzer
Make a rich syrup by combining demerara sugar and 2 cups water over medium-low heat, whisking until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool.
Add pineapple cubes to the syrup and cover. Let soak overnight at room temperature. Strain the pineapple from the flavored syrup (don't discard the fruit—it's tasty).
Use a sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the zest from three lemons; avoid the bitter white pith. Place the zest in a bowl and add the superfine sugar. Mash with a wooden muddler until the mixture is fragrant and the lemon oil combines with the sugar to make a thick paste. Let rest one hour, then remove the bits of peel (or leave them in as garnish).
Prepare a weak green tea by soaking 3 tea bags in one quart hot water for three minutes; let cool.
Combine the gin, Chartreuse (or other liqueur), tea, lemon/sugar mixture, lemon juice, and four ounces of the pineapple syrup, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Chill until ready to serve.
To serve, add one liter chilled seltzer and ice.