Monday, May 21, 2012

Punch up your Summer

I had a great weekend with friends both old and new.  Friday was especially decadent beginning with a five-hour breakfast on my deck (inside and beneath a structure now known as "C-3" watch this space for an explanation...someday) and a girl party that rolled on from morning until afternoon. 

And, face it, it wouldn't be a girl party without a) brunch and b) booze. 

I'll leave you to your own devices for brunch, but today's summer sipping suggestion is this:  punch.  I do still love to throw together some Peach Sangria, but I've gotten into the habit of punches for get-togethers for a couple of reasons: it's easy and there's just no limit to the variations. You can generally use what you have on hand, not to mention it stretches your booze buck.  I improvised a sort of lemonade punch this day that was a big hit. 

While I prefer not-very-sweet drinks as a rule, outdoor summer sipping calls for a little sweetness, I think.  And, please.  Don't just throw in sugar.  Make a simple syrup.  It doesn't take that long and you never have to contend with separated sugar floating to the bottom of your pitcher or being otherwise inadequately blended (SO annoying).  

We'll call today's recipe:


1 to 1.25 cups sugar
1 cup water
The juice and pulp of four lemons plus one more lemon for garnish
1 cup to 1.5 cups Coconut Rum (more if you dare)
1 (large) bottle sparkling water (I used most of a bottle of Apollonaris
Mint (if you have it.  I do and then forgot to use it!)
Chopped fresh fruit (if you have it) 

Make the simple syrup:  mix the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and boil until the sugar dissolves; cool in the fridge.  When the syrup is cool, throw a handful of mint (if using) into a pitcher and add the lemon juice, cooled syrup and then add the Rum (you could use regular rum but the Coconut definitely gives it that "tropical" feel) and pour in the sparkling water, slowly, after half or so tasting as you go. Stop pouring when you're happy with the mix. Add more rum or not.  Serve over the chopped fruit in short glasses with crushed ice and garnish with mint sprigs and lemon slices. 

If you don't have lemons, you could substitute any frozen fruit concentrate mix (lemon, pink lemonade, raspberry, limeade...anything, really) for the the simple syrup and lemon juice. You could substitute any fresh citrus fruit for the lemons: limes, oranges, grapefruit.  Vodka would work as well, it just isn't as festive as coconut rum which is the booze of Summer punch as far I'm concerned. Just get a bottle.  It will entice even the confirmed non-drinker to enjoy a glass.

Sandi: former confirmed non-drinker.
As you might imagine, I am SO proud.

Night time summer punch calls for something a little stronger, if you ask me.  And y'all know I love me some tequila.  Though I absolutely probably do not need to drink it. But, of course, this deters me not at all!  I cannot take credit for this recipe, that goes to my good friends at Southern Living who have yet to steer me wrong on a recipe for absolutely anything. You can drink this punch for any reason at all but, for the obvious reason, it's dynamite with your spicy foods, your guacamole's, your fish tacos and fajitas AND barbecue. Southern Living bills it as a "game day punch" or a "man's drink" no doubt for the powerful punch it packs. And, yes 'Margarita Snobs' this one's for you too, because--hello?-- I am a Margarita Snob.       


1 cup frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1 cup tequila
1/2 cup orange liqueur (Triplesec)  
1/2 to 1 cup cold beer
Lime for garnish 
Note to yourself:  Unless there are only two of you?  Always, always double the recipe using all the frozen concentrate and a whole beer and, of course, double the other stuff.  Doesn't matter the beer--just whatever you like or have on hand, be it light or dark, fancy or cheap, Corona or not. Be sure and pour in the beer just before serving so the whole thing has fizz. Again, serve in short glasses over crushed ice and rim them with salt if you like. Also, I kind of warn everyone that the drink is stout. Right before we climb into the hot tub. After that?  All bets are off. Because everybody, without exception, loves the stuff.  
So, happy sipping, friends! And please email me your favorite punch recipes. I'm always looking to add to the repertoire.     

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