Punches, are simple and amazing... when done properly, that is.
Punches take pressure off busy bartenders and offer your customers an exciting signature cocktail "on tap". Done properly, they should be an inexpensive money generating service. Please let me explain.
If you think I am talking about the type of punch you find in a cooler box at a house party, filled with an array of tinned fruits (fresh from the local shopping centre!) delicately thrown together with cheap spirits and boxed juice, you'd be wrong. There are so many alternatives to the types of punches that have you making bad decisions by the end of the night; I'm talking about concoctions that are lightly complex, make use of quality ingredients, are easy to make and will ensure that you can offer a great cocktail experience at any occasion.
A couple of Christmases ago, whilst spending time with family, it hit home how useful being a bartender can be whenever there is alcohol around. I love working the bar, but I needed a way to showcase these skills without being caught up with mixing drinks the whole day – I was on holiday after all! In came the punch. Not wanting to create something that may finish the party early, I put together a light vermouth punch made with Martini Bianco, green ice tea and some fresh mint, which made for a low-alcohol cocktail that everyone could enjoy. It also didn't cost a fortune and allowed me to enjoy the sunshine by the pool.
On a recent visit to the states I had the fortune of visiting some really incredible bars. I noticed that a lot of punches were being served, and the styles and quality of these were top drawer. Although I did not start this trend (believe it or not!) it did get me thinking about my Christmas punch again, and the place it could have in South African bars and parties.
A large number of bars do not have the time to make cocktails, but would still like to offer them. All these drinks can be per made at the start of shift and kept in containers for later use. Bartenders can pump out these drinks quickly when the bar is busy.
Let's face it, no one likes to wait for a drink, and everyone can enjoy a cocktail.
When & Where?
- Welcome drinks: if you know how many guests to expect, you can prepare these quite accurately to save costs.
- House parties: you can hire some bartenders to serve beer and wine, and have a nice punch on the side for a bit of variety.
- Just a regular braai at home: gents, make the ladies a punch before you put the fire on. You'll thank yourself later!
- Bars: place it on the bar counter with a small sign pointing out the "Punch of the Day", make sure it looks appetising and is served in a good looking punch bowl.
- Restaurants: get the chef to think of a food pairing with it.
There are four main factors here that I would focus on:
- Quality of your ingredients and garnish: don't skimp, your guests will taste it. Keep your garnish simple; one item is plenty.
- Ice: I recommend using broken blocks of ice in the bowl as they don't dilute as quick and do look cool.
- Bowl and serving ladle: I recommend stainless steel vintage type bowls and a quality ladle; they are an attraction piece.
- Balance: make sure it's not too sweet, sour, strong or weak, and try not to make it too much like a sweet fruit punch. Try using spirits infused with spices (you can do this yourself) or flavoured bitters. Fresh fruit juice is a must and don't worry about adding fruit pieces as they soak up the alcohol if left too long and can get a bit mushy. Remember this is merely a general cocktail in a large volume format.
Article by Kevin Snyman, Bacardi Brand Ambassador, South Africa