For more than a year I have been a casual observer of Mixology Monday , content to watch others participate and enjoy the fruits of their hard mixology labors. I told myself that if I ever made the big leap and blogged for myself, MixMo was a must in terms of participation. Thus, as a newbie mixology blogger (my meager little chronicle is but a week old) I’m taking that leap, diving head first into the unknown by participating with fellow bloggers and cocktail enthusiasts in this latest round.
The theme for this month is Punch and it is being hosted by Mike at Hobson’s Choice. Punch? In many respects this theme is perfect for a newbie like me as there are many types or styles of punch affording a pretty open playing field in terms of options. There are the tropical, tiki-like variations, to the classic “holiday” style punches typically consumed in the fall and winter months to those variations that seem to straddle the line.
I recently took a class at New York’s Astor Center titled “Intermediate Home Bartending,” in which the instructors Don Lee and Alex Day taught a class geared towards bringing cocktail mixology to the home bartender and the home setting. The class led off with a discussion of punch, a word derived from the Hindu/Farsi word “panch” meaning five. This linkage was important as the original punch concoctions were comprised of five ingredients — liquor, citrus juice, sugar, tea/spice and water. As the spice trade opened up, “punch” was brought back to England and other parts of Europe by ships engaged in the spice trade and later adopted or morphed into a continental libation.
How do I want to proceed – go with the familiar? The form of punch that I am most familiar with having both made and imbibed what I am sure is gallons of the stuff is Sangria. Sangria seems like a perfectly acceptable choice and meets virtually the entire “five ingredients” test (not sure about tea/spice but …). A second option would be to try something interesting like taking on this challenge and come up with my own Planter’s Punch derivative. With so many heavy weights in the cocktail world preparing their entries for Tales why would I think that my measly little effort would stand up?
So what to do … Well let me go back to the class I referenced earlier in this post. Home bartending; home mixology setting; punch — this might work. As the class began, Don and Alex were positioned at the front of the room and on a table in front of them was arrayed a myriad of bottles of various spirits (including rums, tequilas, cognacs, etc), citrus juices (lemon, lime, grapefruit), simple syrups and liqueurs. As this was a course on home bartending the instructors wanted to highlight how punch is the perfect medium to experiment, explore and have fun with (and if you are ever in a jam with unexpected guests arriving and in need of something to serve go to your pantry and liquor cabinet and start pulling things out). Using the formulation for a classic sour of 2 ounces of base spirit to three quarters of an ounce each of a sour modifier and a sweet modifier the instructors (two of the best bartenders/mixologists in NYC) began to measure out various ingredients from the table in front of them into an empty bowl and within about 5 minutes of tweaking and tasting had developed a great ad hoc punch recipe comprised of various rums, brandies, citrus juices, falernum, allspice dram and simple syrup.
The inspiration to be creative hit me and I found myself standing in front of my liquor cabinet where I randomly grabbed four bottles and together with some citrus and syrup grabbed from the fridge developed my own ad hoc pantry driven party punch of random ingredients.
Pantry Party Punch
• 1 oz medium to dark rum (used Angostura 1919)
• 1/2 oz gold rum (used Mount Gay Eclipse)
• 1/2 oz tequila (used Milagro Reposado)
• 1/2 oz citrus juice (used lime juice)
• 1/2 oz citrus juice (used grapefruit juice)
• 1/2 oz falernum (used John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum)
• 1/4 oz cinnamon syrup (used Trader Tiki’s Cinnamon Syrup)
• 1 to 1 ½ oz of chilled sparkling wine
Shake all ingredients except for the sparkling wine with cracked ice for about 30 seconds or until a layer of frost coats the shaker tin. Double strain the mixture into the serving glass and top with the sparkling wine.
Note: for ease of assembly this recipe was created assuming a single five ounce serving size versus the typical large punch bowl, ice and ladle method (as theSpeakista was only entertaining a crowd of one).
The aroma is a nice balance of citrus and spice. The first taste that grabs you is the spice – the falernum and the cinnamon syrup are lead characters in this play. The spice gives way to a nice subtle vanilla note from the rum(s) and a very mild citrus flavor. The vegetal, earthy quality of the tequila didn’t really make it through the other ingredients.
I am pretty sure that this little concoction isn’t going to be winning any awards for creativity or ground breaking use of an ingredient but I enjoyed the challenge of trying to come up with something original for my first entry in Mixology Monday.