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Hosting a barbecue is a juggling act: You're practicing your reverse sear and prepping side dishes, shucking corn and pulling cherry pie from the oven. You've got a cooler full of pilsner, IPA, and cheap wine—but you know the afternoon would be even more fun if there were fancy cocktails, too.
This punch, adapted from a recipe created by Tommy Quimby for San Francisco's Rich Table, is the answer. It's packed with summer flavor, thanks to fresh peaches (or nectarines; you pick!) and tangy dried apricots, which are softened in simmering water and then whirred into a quick syrup in your blender the night before your barbecue, or up to a week in advance. If you want to get really fancy, you can strain the syrup to make sure there aren't any little bits of stone fruit or peel in your drink. My friends don't mind a slightly more rustic look (or maybe I'm just too lazy to care).
A split vanilla bean bridges the flavor between the peachy syrup and barrel-aged spirits. I love this punch with rum, but if you're a bourbon drinker, go ahead and pour in your favorite bottle instead.
The morning of your party, you'll measure out the peach syrup and rum, adding fresh lemon and white tea, then stash the pitcher in your fridge. Once you've fired up the grill, let your friends fill their glasses with ice and pour their own punch. And have them serve you one, too. Just be careful if you try to juggle it.