It’s time to think beyond wine, beer, and the Margarita.
When you throw a party, you want a fresh, easy punch or pitcher recipe that keeps the cocktails flowing all night long. You may reach for your tried-and-true Margarita drink recipe, but why not try something new this time? Bartender Alexandra Geppert recommends Pisco Punch, a fruity, delicious cocktail that dates back to the Gold Rush.
Punch bowl-style social drinking is the way people used to drink. It wasn’t about a bartender serving each and everyone one of you a cocktail in your glass. “The individual cocktail emerged with accessibility to ice, an American luxury,” says Denver bartender and resident The Hooch Life mastermind Alexandra Geppert. “The original [punch] drinks served the masses quickly, brought people together, and came in whatever receptacle was handy. It was like the pre-Prohibition water cooler.”
Geppert recommends Pisco Punch as a first step for regular folks to try the South American grape brandy called Pisco, which is gaining in popularity across America. “It’s one of those spirits that not everybody’s tried. It’s got an intensely rich, ‘there’s definitely booze in that booze’ characteristic that can intimidate some folks initially. But it’s totally earned it’s place in everyday cocktails, and Pisco Punch is great introduction.”
Geppert recommends punch for all gatherings to take the pressure off the host during the party itself. “It alleviates one major stress when being the bartender and/or host. One of my favorite things to do is to freeze a block of juice with fruit chunks in it to keep the punch cold. You can keep the proportions the same by using the same ingredients that were used in the punch, or switch it up with different flavors melting and melding together throughout the night. The flavor will inevitably change, but you can control whether it stays consistent or evolves throughout the night.”
“There’s truly a traditional definition of punch. It must incorporate five categories of ingredients: strong, weak, sweet, sour, and spice,” says Geppert. “Balancing those five is the trick — not too sweet, not too sour, etc. That being said, the ingredient possibilities are endless.” There are many ways and means to achieve this balance. Just practice, and tweak to your own taste.
Pisco Punch Recipe
Recipe for 12 servings
750ml bottle of Bar Sol Pisco Acholado
1 4lb (or so) Pineapple
1 ½ C Unsweetened Pineapple Syrup
1 ½ C Fresh Squeezed Lemon (or Lime) Juice
Cut the pineapple into small squares. Save the leaves for a funky garnish. Place several pineapple cubes in a mixing glass, and muddle gently just so the juices expel from the fruit; don’t mutilate it. Pour the glass of fruit and juice into a large punch bowl or pitcher. Repeat this until the entire pineapple is muddled and juiced in the bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, and chill in refrigerator until serving. To serve, place ice in a punch cup. Stir the punch, and fill cup with liquid and a couple pineapple pieces. Garnish with pineapple leaf.
Scottish immigrant Duncan Nichol bought the recipe for Pisco Punch from a San Francisco bartender in the 1870s. Nichol was buried with the punch recipe, but a few determined drinkers have pieced together this historic recipe so you can enjoy it today.