Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Endless Summer Punch

I approach most punches with whatever is in season (duh). At Prime Meats I'm blessed with a ridiculously large walk-in, an encouraging kitchen staff, and a phenomenal support team that sources fresh and organic produce from the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvannia. Around mid-summer we started getting some really fantastic wild-seed TriStar strawberries, but that's for another post. Around the same time, and even now as the season comes to a close, we're getting some great raspberries.

Now, the season really is coming to a close. Take a walk around New York City today and you're in for some beautiful sweater weather, the first day like it in the season. This kind of weather makes me want to wear camel hair coats and get all literary up in here. Anyone will tell you that I love alliteration in a punch. Its a great literary device so why can't it be a good culinary device? With that I give you my first bespoke punch:

Endless Summer Punch - Raspberry, Rooibos Tea, and Rum:

8 oz Raspberry Syrup
14 oz Rum (I used the Rhum Barbancourt 8 year)
8 oz Rooibos Tea
4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 of a Cucumber (thinly sliced and quartered, as garnish and slight aromatic)
8 sprigs of Mint
20 or so Raspberries (again as a garnish and aromatic)
2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Prepare Raspberry syrup by muddling half a pint of raspberries with boiling water and about 6 oz of sugar, to taste (depending on ripeness of raspberries), strain and bottle. Prepare Rooibos tea and allow to cool. Add all liquid ingredients and stir. Garnish with mint leaves, raspberries and sliced cucumber.

This little guy can be a bit boozy, so stretch it out with some sparkling water if you so desire (I tend to make everything sparkly, I mean it's way more fun right?).

A delicious Prime Daiquiri on the left and a glass of Endless Summer Punch on the right.


Oh! And in the interest of keeping things moving, my good friend Nick Jarrett of The Franklin (Death & Co. outpost in Philly) will be posting today about the recent Punch Party in Philadelphia.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Introduction - Who doesn't like a nice glass of punch in their mouth?

I love punch. There I said it. You've always thought it but you were ashamed to admit it. Go ahead. Shout it from a roof top. I LOVE PUNCH!

Feels pretty good doesn't it?

I make punch for a living. Well, not just punch, I make all sorts of intoxicating libations. But what I love most about bartending at a fine establishment is making punch. Not just any Ye Ole Punch mind you (though there's nothing wrong with a classic Planter's Punch or Fish House Punch) but off-the-cuff creations. I won't bore you with the details, that's what the rest of the blog is for, but punch lets you experiment with ingredients and build upon flavors on the fly in a way that creating cocktails doesn't quite allow.

Making punch is a lot like cooking. You can add one thing, taste, tweak, add more, spice, taste, tweak, etc. Cocktails are more akin to baking in all it's exacting chemistry -- you mix it all together, "bake" it over ice and see what comes out. Sometimes it's absolutely glorious. Most of the time it's not. There's something just so damned organic and fervent about the whole punch making business. And forget the stuffiness of it all. Punch is fun and punk and insane and wild and well all that other stuff because, after all, it's about partying.

In the coming posts we will talk about how to make a good punch, how to fix a bad punch, some great classics and new favorites from great bars and bartenders, and some new ideas here and there. I expect a lot of great contributors will add more content than I could dream, and I hope this becomes a repository for recipes that otherwise might be forgotten. A sort of punch sanctuary where punches of all types can run wild and dream of chasing cats or whatever it is punches do in their dreams.

I'm glad you love punch as much as I do. Go ahead, drink a glass of punch. Feels pretty good doesn't it?

I'll leave you with this little tid bit that's, well, in a word - badass (from Wikipedia):

There is a college tradition at Jesus College in Oxford that a famous silver-gilded punch bowl will be presented to anyone who can meet two challenges. The first is to put arms around the bowl at its widest point; the second is to drain the bowl of strong punch (10 imperial gallons or 45 L). The bowl measures 5 feet 2 inches (1.6 m) at its widest point, and so the first challenge has only been accomplished rarely; the second challenge has not been met.

I'm not positive this is the exact punch bowl at Jesus College, but I'm sure it's similar.