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Highly Specific Punch Request

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I'd like to offer a punch on my birthday and it would be fantastic if someone could help me figure out what to make.
First, I need to cap costs at $50 for about 15 people. Less would be better, college student here.
I really like cocktails that aren't cloyingly sweet (a Hurricane sounds like death to me), and I'm trying to avoid soda pop if at all possible because it gives me massive hangovers.
And just to make things really interesting, I'd prefer to avoid vodka - and when it comes to gin, I've only really liked Hendrick's (which I refuse to throw into a punch).

Super bonus if you can suggest something that's even vaguely seasonal for late February.

Many thanks in advance!

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  1. This one has worked well in the past and comes across like a drier, less fruit sangria or sangria crossed with a lemon iced tea. Nothing overly challenging but not boring either. Using decaffeinated tea is an option if you are worried about getting people wired. Estimated cost (depending on where you go shopping) is around $40. Putting the apple brandy and rum in the freezer and wine in the fridge overnight, prepping the tea-lemon the day before and bottling or a few hours before will allow for quick assembly (or in my case, bringing the punch to a friend's house).

    Xalapa Punch
    • 2 1/2 quarts strong black tea
    • 1 pint simple syrup
    • grated peel of 2 lemons
    • 1 bottle applejack
    • 1 bottle rum
    • 1 bottle dry red wine
    • 1 lemon sliced thin
    Pour the hot tea over the lemon peel and allow to stand 10 to 15 minutes. Add the sugar syrup and stir thoroughly. Cool, add the liquors and wine, and let stand an hour or more to ripen. Pour over ice in Punch bowl and add lemon slices just before serving.

    http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com

    5 Replies
    1. re: yarm

      I'm not a punch guy, but that sounds pretty darn good. I'd be tempted to use Lapsang Souchong for some or all of the tea, but it might narrow the appeal.

      Hmmm. Researching slightly, I see it's not a very original idea: http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/se...
      --
      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

      1. re: yarm

        Thank you both, yarm and EvergreenDan. This does look pretty promising.

        Maybe it would be helpful to get some information from you two on why some cocktail recipes hold up as large batches and others don't. Any thoughts?

        1. re: khoops

          There is scalability issues with bitters, citrus, and thus sweetness. It makes very little sense on paper but is a known problem. Cocktails can be scaled up but they often require some nudging. These are issues whether its a punch bowl or a pitcher. It might have been covered in BAR SMARTS in which case I can look it up later.

          1. re: yarm

            That makes sense. So theoretically, could I make a punch bowl's worth of mojito and then tweak it last-minute as I see fit? Or am I missing the point here? I am pretty excited about that Xalapa punch, but I also love me a good mojito.

            1. re: khoops

              Have some extra lime juice or simple syrup to nudge it one way or the other and it's do-able. The one fear about doing a Mojito punch is that it'll go a bit flat before the bowl is done. Although it won't be bad even when it's flat.