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Punch recipes, anyone? (no added sugar, please)

Having an open house this Sunday and thought I'd serve two punches: one with alcohol and one without. What I'm surprised to find, searching the Web, is that so many punches call for Kool-Aid, Hawaiian Punch (didn't even know that was still around), and/or cups of sugar. I can't understand why a mixture of fruit juices and soda requires added sugar.

There's a thread from 2011 about a punch that they used to make at Disneyland--Jungle Julep. It sounds pretty good, but are the Tang and sugar necessary? Couldn't you just add orange juice?


Jungle Julep (from Adventureland's Tahitian Terrace)


½ c. sugar
5 c. cold water
½ c. pineapple juice
3 T. lemon juice
2 T. grape juice concentrate
2 T. sweetened orange powdered drink mix
1 ½ T. grenadine


In a large pitcher, mix the sugar with the water until it is completely dissolved. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Chill. May be served over ice. Makes 1 ½ quarts.

I'd like to do something like that but adding, say, ginger ale to one and Prosecco to the other. What do you think? Any other ideas? (Yes, I did check previous Chow "punch threads" but there wasn't much that interested me.)

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  1. I find punches of this sort far too sweet. I've reduced the sugar in my mothers champagne punch recipe down to 1/2 a cup from two. My advice would be to make it without the sugar or Tang then adjust the taste with OJ and double simple syrup if necessary.

    1. My go to punch recipe is pretty simple and may have been on one of those other punch threads you weren't inspired by...I'd urge you to try it though...

      1 can frozen limeade concentrate to 2 liters ginger ale, and 1 bag of ice. Sliced limes and mint for garnish. Tart, not too sweet and pretty darn refreshing too.

      3 Replies
      1. re: soypower

        I make one very similar to this one. I use a 2 litre bottle of club soda and use frozen strawberries instead of ice, as they melt they flavour the punch. My kids love it and not too sweet.

        1. re: DowntownJosie

          Both ways sound good--thanks for the suggestions. I like the fact that this one probably wouldn't stain very badly if spilled since there will be children present.

        2. re: soypower

          Lemonade or limeade concentrate makes the BEST punch - super tangy. I like to sub dry sparkling wine into any recipe calling for ginger ale or Sprite for even less sweetness.

        3. That recipe includes 5 cups of water, hence the .5 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of tang. Which is pretty minuscule IMO

          You could add orange juice but the profile will be changed. Maybe if you cut down on the water.

          Punch is pretty much watered down juice, not just for taste but to make it go further I suppose, which is why they call for additional sugar.

          My high school friends go to punch recipe is fruit drink (koolaid, Hawaiian punch, or actual juice would work) and lemon lime soda. Maybe 1:1

          12 Replies
          1. re: youareabunny

            But I'm not so sure I want a "flavor profile" that includes Tang. :-)

            1. re: Thanks4Food

              5 cups of water, 1/2 cup of pineapple juice won't be affected much by 2 tablespoons of tang...

              1. re: youareabunny

                ingredients in tang:

                ORANGE JUICE SOLIDS
                ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C)
                NATURAL FLAVOR
                Natural flavor
                ARTIFICIAL COLOR
                YELLOW 5
                YELLOW 6
                ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR
                VITAMIN A PALMITATE
                VITAMIN B6
                RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2)

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  And the grenadine? Juice concentrate? There's a reason why it's called punch ;)

                  1. re: youareabunny

                    are you talking to me?

                    ‘punch’ comes from the indian word ‘panch,’ which means ‘five.’ it refers to the five necessary ingredients for a classic punch: water, sugar, something sour, something bitter, and something alcoholic. early on, simple syrup was prepared first and mixed with lemon juice and bitter tea. alcohol of choice was arrack – a sort of moonshine type booze made of whatever was available for fermentation. coconuts and fruit were popular starting points depending on the region.

                    as the british empire spread and sailors hit new ports, the booze based changed, most often to rum.

                    the sticky sweet chemical concoction to which you're referring has little in common with real punch. it's not supposed to be a "punch" of sugar.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Thanks for the history lesson. But I stand by my belief that 1/2 cup sugar to 5 cups of water isn't anything to fuss over.

                      And as a kid, I did water down my kool aid

                      1. re: youareabunny

                        on the internetz, i can't tell if you're being sarcastic. ? ^-^ ?

                        but adding sugar on top of juice and soda, especially with kids drinking it, seems total overkill.

                  2. re: hotoynoodle

                    And that is why it has that special taste is so hard to duplicate at home.

                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                      am sure it tastes better in space anyway.

                  3. re: youareabunny

                    You're the one who said the "profile" would be changed by switching out the Tang for OJ.

                    1. re: Thanks4Food

                      Not the tang. The tang is concentrated sweet and flavor. Oj wouldn't be equal to that unless you up the amount

                      1. re: youareabunny

                        I can't follow you at all, so I"m considering this particular conversation closed.

              2. No recipe but I generally just pour in some pineapple juice, some cranberry juice, some orange juice and then Gingerale and call it a day.

                Garnish with sliced citrus or any fruit and I try to use large ice blocks so it doesn't get watered down much. Have used frozen juice cubes as well.

                1. Both prosecco and ginger ale lose its fizz in a punch. Not as big of a deal w/ ginger ale but I like fizz in Prosecco. What if you do a mix, eg. this punch but don't add the ginger ale. People can put in a scoop or so and pour prosecco or gingerale over it:


                  Alternatively, using your idea, you can make one w/ ginger ale, one w/ prosecco.

                  1. fruit juices are full of sugar anyway and i find pineapple juice to be so cloying i cannot drink it.

                    what about "virgin" sangria?


                    i'd use white grape juice instead and garnish with seasonal fruit

                    then you can make a grown-up batch by adding white or red wine.

                    1 Reply
                    1. My Mothers best friend has a "Bridal Punch" which is delicious.
                      I made it when I catered a dry 50th anniversary party at a church and was inundated with people wanting the recipe.

                      1-6 oz. can frozen oj concentrate
                      1-6 oz can frozen limeade concentrate
                      1-6 oz can frozen lemonade concentrate
                      2-10 oz. boxes of frozen strawberries in syrup
                      3 cups water
                      1 liter of ginger ale

                      Have all frozen ingredients thawed. Puree strawberries. Combine with everything except for the ginger ale. Stir well.
                      refrigerate until ready to serve. Add ginger ale the last minute, stir well.

                      This is nice with a frozen ring of the mixture or a sherbert added. I've varied flavors and it always tastes great!

                      yield 1 gal.

                        1. Still looking into recipes. I'm now considering that with 13-15 children coming (yikes), perhaps a light-colored punch would be ideal.

                          I found this one from Welch's: http://www.welchs.com/recipes/drinks-.... What do you-all think of that cinnamon syrup? And do you think 3 16oz bottles of lemon-lime soda make sense? How do you serve 30 with 3 16-oz bottles?

                          I also saw this one: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sparklin... and wondered if sparkling white grape would work instead of the sparkling apple cider.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Thanks4Food

                            for the welch's link, in addition to the soda, you have another 8.5 cups of liquid, making about 14 cups altogether with the recipe. less than 1/2 cup per person so i'd at least double it. with everything else in there, i'd totally omit the sugar.

                          2. I'm not a big punch person but these catch my eye. Martinelli is better than ginger ale. And, you can use prosecco.


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: chowser

                              Hey, thanks for that link. I should have thought to check their website. They all sound good, but I'm leaning towards the Passion Punch, but would no doubt have to use frozen strawberries instead of fresh.

                              If you looked at that recipe, did you kinda wonder what "Friday Night Live, Soquel High School..." had to do with it?

                              Wait--now I'm not sure what they mean by "5 bottles Martinelli’s Cider or Apple Juice". My first thought had been the bottles of Sparkling cider. But if they mean plain apple cider, what size bottle? I mean 5 bottles of this sucker would be a LOT: http://www.martinellis.com/products/j...

                              (P.S. I just emailed them to ask for clarification.)

                              1. re: Thanks4Food

                                Martinelli's replied: The recipe calls for five 25.4 ounce bottles or [sic--I think they meant "of"] Sparkling Apple Cider or five 25.4 bottles of Apple Juice. You are correct in pointing the omission of the bottle size and we appreciate it. We will correct the recipe on our website. The Friday Night Live Program at Soquel High is the group who developed the recipe and submitted it to us. Some of the recipes are credited to customers who submitted them.

                            2. Bahama Mariners punch.

                              1 bottle light rum
                              1 bottle dark rum
                              1 bottle brandy
                              2 cans frozen concentrate I like guava
                              4 liters ginger ale

                              Mix this in an empty 5 gallon water jug. Tell the other boats that the gam is BYOI. Bring Your Own Ice.

                              1. Just before Thanksgiving I saw a video - I'm sure it was on Chow - about making a punch. The guy gave lots of good tips but all I remember is he said to use one big block of ice. I can't find it right now, but here's another one where she says the same thing:


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: GraydonCarter

                                  it makes a nicer presentation and is MUCH slower to melt, so the punch doesn't get watered down as quickly.

                                2. Ever just juice a watermelon? It's easy and if it's a good watermelon it's very sweet. It's simple but people tend to go nuts over it.

                                  You can add rosewater or mint or something if you want to be fancy

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Siegal

                                    if the op is in the northern hemisphere, watermelons all taste like cardboard right now.