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Written by the YesChef staff
If parties are a perfect setting for punch, holiday get-togethers are even better for it. For one thing, holiday gatherings are, of course, meant to be cheerful and spirited occasions and the physical setup of the punchbowl is such that you are encouraged to converse and meet new people and socialize rather than stand off by yourself and sip your drink awkwardly. Also, the versatility of punch bowl ingredients means that you can match the flavor of your punch with the theme of your event or with the season during which the festivities are taking place. For instance, if it’s autumn you can make apple cider or pumpkin pie-flavored punch. For Christmas, you can make something more festive and jolly featuring flourishes of red such as a punch with cranberries and pomegranate juice and sparkling red wine. For your Hanukah Party you can make a Manischewitz Punch, which has ultra-sweet red Manischewitz wine plus some citrus and ginger liqueur.
One of the best ways to make punch for a holiday party or other social gathering is with rum. And Kwame’s Jamaican Rum Punch cocktail recipe, which he demonstrates for us during his YesChef lesson, creates a drink that is not only gorgeous to behold but also sensational to taste. Kwame makes his Jamaican Rum Punch cocktail by cutting tropical fruits such as mangoes, a papaya, and a custard apple and blending them – with white rum and dark rum – into a puree. After chilling it in the fridge, the puree is returned to the blender along with ice – and more rum – and blended until it’s ready to be consumed. Instead of serving it in a bowl, he serves it in a pitcher.
Punch Bowl Size: The size of the bowl you put out is very important. If you use a punch bowl that is too small, you will run out of punch and have to scramble to re-fill it while your guests wait. This unnecessary work and stress defeats the purpose of having punch to begin with. As a general rule, the bigger the bowl the better. If you are having a smaller gathering, it’s also a great idea to serve the punch in a pitcher.
Adding the Ice: When you are using an extremely large bowl, you will need larger ice cubes or blocks to keep it cool. Smaller ice cubes will melt more quickly and make your tasty, bubbly bowl of punch taste too watery. Additionally, be sure to add your ice as close to the gathering as possible; doing so too far in advance will cause the ice to melt and dilute your punch.
Adding Fizz: Like with ice, don’t add anything bubbly such as sparkling wine, sparkling water, or ginger ale to your bowl earlier than you must. Otherwise, the fizz might flatten by the time your celebration gets underway. Toss these elements in shortly before your guests arrive.
Not Too Sweet: For the best flavor that is neither too sweet nor overpowered by liquor, try balancing sweet ingredients with more bitter ones. If you add equal parts fruit juice, liquor, and seltzer water in addition to some bitters, your punch likely won’t be too sugary. Like with any good dish in the kitchen, taste the punch as you make it – and add non-alcoholic fruit elements and liquors as needed – to ensure that your punch has the right balance. While you want your guests to have a bloody great time and for the punch not to be too weak, you also don’t want them so sick the next day that they’ll be cursing your name as they suffer through their hangover.
For Appearance: Garnish! Garnishes like sliced fruit – oranges, lemons, limes, and strawberries work great – as do herbs like mint leaves, which will add complexity to the flavor of your bowl while at the same time making it look more appealing.
Choose Your Bowl Wisely: Finally, the appearance of your bowl shouldn’t be ignored. For a holiday gathering in particular, the aesthetics of the bowl will help set the atmosphere of your party. Bowls can be made of glass, and also of nice-looking materials like crystal, copper, and silver.
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