You'll Want to Dive Head First Into This Punch Bowl
Who's ready for a long weekend? We're sure you've been busy solidifying plans for Memorial Day, the official kick off to summer. Whether you're heading to the beach, going camping or sticking around home, the weekend presents the perfect excuse to gather with friends, fire up the barbecue and have some drinks. There was a time when tapping a keg sufficed, but not anymore. Cocktail culture has risen up alongside food culture over the last few years and people have really started to get creative with their beverage offerings.
Charles Joly, award-winning beverage director at The Aviary, Chicago's super-hot cocktail lounge, which is co-owned by world-renowned chef Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next), agrees. He has been making punch bowls for years and thinks they're perfect for large groups. "There's something to sharing in a communal bowl with friends, all drawing from the same vessel," Joly said. "It also allows for your guests to have a beverage at hand without tying you to the bar, allowing you to entertain and enjoy your company." We think this last bit is the big reason to make a punch ... you get to hang out more and not worry about constantly making new drinks for everyone.
Joly, who recently won a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program at the Aviary, created this recipe for Abe's. It was inspired by Don Javier Delgado Corona, the bartender at La Capilla, a decades-old bar in the town of Tequila, Mexico, that was first owned by his grandfather and continues to draw tequila aficionados. Joly calls Don Javier "one of the finest barmen I've ever had the pleasure of meeting" and honors him with this recipe. Where the drink is concerned, it's perfect for a warm-weather soiree. "The flavors make me think of this time of year," he said. "Light floral notes, a hint of smoke reminding me of gathering to cook out with friends and bright citrus that will be a crowd pleaser." Are you ready to please the crowd?
Don Javier's Smile — Punch Bowl Recipe
- 4 oz. blanco tequila, 100% agave (Olmeca Altos, El Tesoro, Tequila Cabeza are good examples)
- 2 oz. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
- 2 oz. Martini & Rossi Bianco Vermouth
- 4 oz. honey syrup*
- 4 oz. tangerine juice (fresh, strained)
- 2 oz. lemon juice (fresh, strained)
- 16 oz. strong brewed lavender & chamomile tea**
Optional: block of pomegranate ice***
Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl. Stir well and chill until ready to serve. Don't forget to taste! You'd never make a sauce at home without tasting it before serving and cocktails are no different. Balance of flavor is entirely subjective: Add a bit more honey syrup, citrus or spirits to your guests tastes. Garnish with lemon and tangerine wheels floated in punch.
Serves 5 to 6 people
*Honey Syrup: to make syrup combine equal volume raw clover honey with warm-hot water. Stir until fully combined. Allow to cool. (store in refrigerator)
**Strong Brewed Tea: Brew the tea at a greater strength than a typical cup to allow the delicate flavors to stand out in the punch. Use two (2) bags of organic lavender tea and two (2) bags of organic chamomile tea per 16 ounces of water. (if you are scaling up the recipe, add one bag per 4 oz. of extra water.)
*** Flavored ice: For an extra touch try adding flavored ice to the punch or guest's glass. Mix 2 parts water to 1 part pure pomegranate juice and freeze. For ice in the punch bowl use a small bunt pan, bowl or other appropriate sized vessel to freeze.