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When I start to think about making a punch, I get really excited. I'm not talking garbage-pail college drinks, but the real thing, historically made with an oleo-saccharum, which is just a fancy phrase for a mix of sugar and citrus peels that's packed with concentrated and complex flavor. (The process isn't fancy at all: you just peel the zest from some citrus, toss the peels with sugar, and muddle a bit until the peels begin to express their oils. Then you wait, strain, and use it, incorporating the fresh, tangy, and slightly bitter flavors into whatever drink you're making.)
If you're looking to create a traditional punch, you're free to play around and make substitutions, keeping in mind that an excellent punch will balance the four elements of strong, weak, sweet, and sour. We can look to history here too: just as an oleo-saccharum of sugar and citrus peels is the traditional choice for a flavorful sweet component, tea is commonly the 'weak' element—the ingredient that fills out the punch bowl and keeps your guests from getting too wasted.
Tea feels especially appropriate for summer punches—who doesn't love an Arnold Palmer?—but I wanted to give this drink a subtle boost of hearty, earthy flavor, so I called in Gunpowder Tea, which has a savory quality that's great with the herbaceous flavors of a new world gin. Celery bitters add a vegetal side that helps prop up that herby flavor—the scent of this drink will almost make you think you're out harvesting in your garden. But the punch is brought back into balance by the tanginess of fresh lemon and lime. It's a deliciously complex collection of flavors that's easy to serve up at a party with no last-minute fuss.
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