Good news — September 20 is National Punch Day! Would you rather have a punch in the face or some punch in a bowl? We hope you said the latter because this is the Internet and not an old-timey saloon fight.
But if you’re more scared of making punches than taking punches, here are our essential tips for pouring a “liquid party” into a bowl. Grab those ladles and cups, because things are about to get punch-drunk.
5 Punch Tips You Must Know:
1. Start With a Big Enough Bowl
If you don’t have a punch bowl, find the prettiest bowl in the cupboard and simply call it a “punch bowl.” Done. Or – super-secret tip – hit a vintage shop or thrift store. There are almost always gorgeous vintage punch bowls for incredibly cheap. You know why? Because no one knows how to make punch (see below!). Just please do us one favor: Don’t serve guests punch from a bucket.
2. Balance the Sweet and the Bitter
One common mishap with punches is accidentally creating a bowl of alcoholic sugar water. The first sip is awesome but by the end of the cup, you’re hungover. A very easy formula to start with is:
2 parts non-alcoholic juice (orange juice, lemonade, blood orange juice, cranberry juice)
2 parts booze (flavored vodkas are easiest to pair, but bourbon and gin can go great with citrus)
2 parts seltzer water
10-15 dashes of bitters to taste (start with a few dashes in the bowl and taste)
Although champagne punches can be bubbly and delicious, we think that mixing sugary champagne with sugary juice is a recipe for an immediate headache. So it’s a good idea to choose a base spirit like a gin or a bourbon or a flavored vodka, mix it with a complementary booze, add some bubbly water (perhaps in a complementary flavor) and 10-15 dashes of bitters to give the cocktail some depth. Keep tasting it. Too sweet? Add more seltzer water. Too boozy? Add more juice. Keep tasting. Don’t taste all of it before the guests arrive.
And if you don’t want to create your own, try these recipes:
- Alie & Georgia’s Zombie Gut Punch
- Giada’s Italian Fruit Punch
- Two Fat Ladies’ Rum Punch
- Mulled Hibiscus Punch
- More Punch Recipes and Drinks for a Crowd
3. Big Ice Cubes Are Your Friends
The best way to keep your punch cool: ice. Duh. But the biggest punch secret is using one huge ice cube. A whole bowl of tiny ice cubes will melt faster than you can say “water trough,” but one huge block of ice will melt much more slowly and not dilute your drink. So two nights before the party, get a big metal loaf pan or a metal bowl (but slightly smaller than your punch bowl), fill it with water and put it in the freezer until it’s a big solid block of ice. When you’re ready to serve your punch, dip the bottom of the bowl in warm water to loosen the ice and pop it in the punch bowl. Or, if your local liquor store sells 10-lb. blocks of ice, use that in ye olde punch bowl.
4. Use Fresh Garnish-y Stuff
In addition to a huge block of ice, think about pretty things to float in your punch. Our suggestions: slices of lemon or orange, lovely sliced strawberries or peaches, or whole fresh mint leaves. Things not to float in your punch: pool noodles, dollar bills, rubber duckies.
5. Don’t Buy Ugly Cups
If you’re working hard to serve an appealing punch, don’t hide it in those big red plastic party cups that we all have some regrettable memories of. For two reasons: Those cups are unsightly, and they also do not allow party-goers to enjoy the aesthetic benefits of your punch labors. Also, those cups are huge, which means that people will get drunk very fast and they will drink up all of your punch before the party is over. So get smaller, 8-10 oz. clear party cups. Smaller portions = fewer drunk people napping on your couch. You’re welcome.
With that, go out and punch yourself!
Alie & Georgia