Food

Packing a Punch

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I’ll be honest—when I think punch, only three things come to mind: (1) The
winning bridal-shower concoction of orange sherbet and 7-UP, irreversibly
separating into highly suspect, foamy clumps an hour in. (2) Whatever tub of
tainted “juice” frat boys probably pee-peed in at college parties. (3) The
Capri-Sun pouch.

The world of fancier punch, I’ve by and large only glimpsed in the pages of
Bon Appetit and pastel-colored cookbooks—the same ones that
invariably list recipes of elegant Pimm’s cups and winning berry trifles. It
always seemed like a waste of effort. This was for those weird, freaky
people who had time to freeze their roses into ice-cube “rings” and who
thought carving watermelon into baby carriages or
other shapes was
somehow forgivable and okay. If you had all that time in the summer, you’d
drop it assembling one real sweet flag cake; maybe toss off a very necessary Kool-Aid Man?

Surely, some compromise must exist between Champagne brunches and
rubbing-alcohol-spiked Juicy Juice. There is: Behold Sutra ‘s Simple Summer Punch,
what the Lower East Side bar is serving up at their July 4th bash this
weekend. Created by Alex “Luca” Ott, the mixologist behind the cocktail
menus at Sushi Samba,
Bao 111, and the
Parisian Buddha Bar, it appears a lot fancier than it actually is. Ott
spikes the muddled-grape punch with vodka instead of rum to keep it light
and summery. The addition of lychee juice and white wine seem like a pretty
frou-frou touch—but, says Ott, “canned lychee juice can be used, and you
can grab a two-liter bottle of $5 white wine.” A pricier option is also
available from Odea,
and a recipe for gross debauchery, courtesy of Otto’s Shrunken Head.

If making way for the mighty punch bowl in your glorified ice box still
seems brilliantly stupid, use it as an excuse to try a few on summer
cocktail menus around the city. Prohibition Punch at
Campbell Apartment harkens back to the
days when fruit juice was used to cover the taste of crappy homemade hooch
(we imagine Campbell uses more quality booze for their $15 version). Grace does a fancy rum
punch, made with Gosling’s and Bacardi Limon, shaken and served over the
rocks ($10). Then there’s always the subtle volcano bowls at Waikiki Wally’s ($29), or new bar Sly, which is pulling out
a special July 4th punch ($5), with alternating levels of red, white, and
blue (using Absolut Peach, sours, blue curaçao, and cranberry juice). Will
wonders never cease.

The Swanky-But-Pricey Punch

Odea’s July 4th Punch

16 oz. Grey Goose Citron

20 fresh strawberries

6 lemons (juiced)

Muddle up the strawberries, and combine with the vodka and juice of the

lemons. Top with 7-Up.

The Cheap-Yet-Equally-Classy Punch

Sutra’s Simple Summer Punch

1 ltr. vodka

2 qts. lychee juice (can use canned)

1 pound red seedless grapes

10 oz. sugar

4 lemons (juiced)

2 limes (juiced)

Remove the stems from the grapes and mash up with the sugar. Combine with
the rest of the ingredients in a big punch bowl, cover, and refrigerate for
an hour. Ladle out the punch over glasses of ice.

The Let’s-Get-Shamelessly-Wasted Punch

Otto Shrunken Head’s Killer Punch

1/2 bottle of light rum

1/2 bottle of dark rum

1 cup almond syrup

1 cup triple sec

1 cup fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients, and then fill the rest of the bowl with sour mix
and lots of ice. Add some club soda to kill the sweetness. Garnish with
mint.

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