Few cocktails have the power to form a circle and an engaged — if outlandish –conversation like punch. Straightforward, boozy, and crowd-pleasing by nature, it is no wonder these table setting tipples are making a big, large-format comeback. With Thanksgiving and out-of-town visitors on the horizon, here are 10 places in NYC to turn to for communal celebrations.
10. The Red Bush and The Isla Punch, Cienfuegos, 95 Avenue A
This punch bowl haven has been creating communal cocktails for East Villagers since its April 2010 debut. A dozen varieties are on offer, and all are available in three sizes to suit every party’s needs. For the Red Bush, the only “rumless punch” on the list, rooibos-infused Elijah Craig 12 Year bourbon and apricot liqueur are chilled over large ice blocks for a bright and honeyed pour, while the Isla Punch — with rum, guava, lychee, and orgeat — is bound to get you plotting equatorial getaways.
9. The Harvest Punch, Clover Club, 210 Smith Street, Brooklyn
Punch is dubbed “the granddaddy of all drinks” at this Cobble Hill cocktail cornerstone, where owner Julie Reiner supplies her own collection of antique punch bowls for the menu’s shareable spirits. Seasonality triumphs in the Harvest Punch, a medley of mulled apple cider, Martinique and Jamaican rums, Cognac, and apple wheels.
8. The PAMA Paloma, Apartment 13, 115 Avenue C
The same “our home is your home” hospitality practice that inspired the name of this Alphabet City eatery is evidenced throughout the space from the menu headliners (“let’s toast” and “breaking bread”) right down to the bar’s many communal concoctions. Bartender Leo DeGroff balances smoky and tangy flavors in the PAMA Paloma, a convergence of mezcal, pomegranate, sherry, and nutmeg.
7. La Petite Pomme and The Wailers Island, The Bourgeois Pig, 111 East 7th Street
Champagne takes a front, velvet-backed seat at the Bourgeois Pig, where bubbles make their way into five of the East Village drinkery’s punch bowls, including the just released La Petite Pomme: a cold-month batch of Cocchi Americano Blanc, apple cider, and ginger bitters. Where sparkling wine is absent, rich and tropical notes reign; the Wailers Island is a bright brew of Pedro Ximenez, muddled raspberries, and pineapple juice.
6. The American Beauty, Prime Meats, 465 Court Street, Brooklyn
New York’s early 1900s inns and dining halls inspired the decor of this Carroll Gardens corner fixture, and the drink list takes a similar pre-prohibition cue. History makes a faint appearance in the prices, too; for $5, diners can sample a mug of any one of the restaurant’s punches, including the American Beauty: an Armagnac- and Benedictine-driven bowl with notes of strong black tea and raspberry.
5. Cranberry Cassis and Cider Tequila, Millesime, 92 Madison Avenue
Mimosas and bloody marys make way for large format competition at Flatiron brasserie Millesime, where unlimited punches accompany brunch entrees for $29. Between the set price and approachable punch titles — cranberry cassis and cider tequila — guests can happily drink up many a boozy ounce.
4. The Piccadilly Punch, Death & Company, 433 East 6th Street
The drink list is categorized by spirit and preparation method at this barely-marked East Village haunt, where patrons will find special dedication to the punch bowl in menu page corner form. In the Piccadilly Punch, Bols Genever, hard apple cider, nutmeg and lemon oleo-saccharum collide for a malty and seasonally-focused concoction.
3. The G.M. Gurton’s, The Dead Rabbit, 30 Water Street
When punch isn’t being bottled at this Financial District taproom-meets-parlor, it’s being served by the flagon, glass, and, of course, bowl (in three sizes, at that). Green tea and ginger extract provide earthy, zippy, and — dare we say — healthy complexity to the G.M. Gurton’s, an otherwise tropical and heady marriage of oloroso sherry, Cognac, Jamaican rum, and molasses-redolent muscovado sugar.
2. The Milk Punch and The Pago Pago Punch, Atrium DUMBO, 15 Main Street, Brooklyn
Brunch gets boozy at the recently opened Atrium DUMBO, where beverage director Alexander LaPratt offers two pitcher punches for weekenders looking to wind down. The Milk Punch matches up primordial punch staple Batavia Arrack with brandy, rum, coriander seeds, and Jasmine tea for a floral and earthy fusion of flavors, while the Pago Pago Punch, an ode to tiki legend Dean Short’s 1940s restaurant, is a more straightforward alliance of Jamaican rum, orange juice, and Angostura bitters.
1. The Trade Winds and The Smoke on the Water, The Drink, 228 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn
The team at this Williamsburg locale stop at nothing for the freshly squeezed juices and house-made syrups that populate the punch-heavy menu. For the Trade Winds, pumpkin is juiced with an extractor before meeting a chai tea and dried chili pepper syrup and coming head to head with scotch and solera sherry for a rich and smoky buzz. In the Smoke on The Water, earthy lapsang souchong syrup — a simple syrup made with lapsang souchong smoked green tea — balances nutty tawny port and bold tequila notes.