Whether you want to share a big punch bowl with a group of friends or enjoy a singular punch cocktail all to yourself, seasonal punches come in all shapes, sizes and potencies. We tapped bartenders around the country to give us 16 favorites to keep you happy until fall.
(image: Justin Levy)
Sometimes you want a large punch bowl to share with a group; other times, you want something more manageable, and mixologist Evan Charest's mini punches served in copper pineapple vessels do the trick. He makes the classic El Diablo with La Niña del Mezcal, Olmeca Altos Plata tequila, crème de cassis, ginger, lime and soda for a dark-berry-hued and subtly sweet drink with a bit of smoke.
Had a tough day? Lift your spirits with this cocktail. Bar manager Michael Anderson combines herbaceous and tropical flavors with genever, green tea and pineapple before adding in yeasty New Belgium Frambozen raspberry brown ale for some depth. It's finished off with fresh mint, adding to the perfect summer drink to cure what ails you.
Originally created for Punch Kings' cocktail competition at D.C. Cochon 555 (for which it won), this cocktail by lead bartender Erin Goodman is like a Dark & Stormy meets a Whiskey Sour but more. It combines Jim Beam bourbon, El Dorado dark demerara rum, pineapple-ginger syrup, green tea, and lemon and mandarin juices. It's a great intro to whiskey for people who don't normally like the brown booze, balancing it with other bright flavors.
Like rum and Caribbean food? You'll love this drink by Solomon & Kuff co-owner Karl Franz Williams. He combines Jamaican rum, rhum agricole (or another sugar-cane-distilled rum), lime, bitters and grated nutmeg. The slightly bitter, slightly citric, slightly sweet and balanced drink is a perfect pairing for food from the islands.
(image: Filip Wolak)
Consider yourself sweet but have a bit of a spicy side? Then this drink was made for you. It starts with Patron Silver tequila, then adds in a nice balance of fresh blackberry and pineapple juice, lime and agave to sweeten it up a bit. It has a nice spicy kick to get any night going.
This riff on pre-Prohibition punch is no slouch. Assistant food-and-beverage manager William Mitchell steeps a cornucopia of ingredients—stone fruits, citrus, apricots, cardamom pods, cloves, housemade saffron syrup—for at least a week before adding in applejack, Pierre Ferrand cognac, Aperol and Lillet Rosé. It's a truly sweet-bitter-fruity balance with a serious, ahem, punch.
This cocktail works to evoke breezy warm days where you get the urge to have an impromptu beach party. Chef Laura Bellucci combines green jasmine tea with white rum (often Banks 5 Island Blend), pineapple juice, mango puree, lime, simple syrup, and Angostura and rhubarb bitters. It brings together the island culture so prevalent in New Orleans, from the smell to the taste to the vibe.
At craft cocktail bar Spoke & Steele, beverage director Tyler Burns treats guests to tableside punch bowl service. After wheeling out the cart, he mixes Flor de Caña rum, Monte Alban tequila and Metaxa liqueur with fresh pineapple, orange juice, orgeat and raspberry. It brings together global flavors for a fun drinking experience in either a half-bowl ($100 for 20 cups) or full bowl ($200 for 40 cups) served in vintage glassware.
There may be a lot going on in this warm-weather summertime punch, but general manager Joe Goglia brings balance among the sweet, citrus, bitter and herbaceous flavors. He combines bubbly prosecco with St-Germain, limoncello, Aperol, and raspberry and lemon juice. It starts out sweet and carries through to a crisp, citrusy finish—not a bad way to while away some time on a rooftop looking out across Manhattan.
This update on a classic English rum punch exclusively uses Jamaican flavors. It takes West Indian bay-leaf-infused Wray & Nephew rum to make a house-made falernum also comprising ginger root, clove and nutmeg. Then lime oleo-saccharum gets added along with a bitter almond extract to complete the falernum. Hibiscus is then added, and everything is served in a large-format bowl resulting in a bright and exotic cocktail.
(image: Shayna Fontana)
Anyone can have lemonade. Hell, anyone can add iced tea to it and make an Arnold Palmer. But what beverage director Tyler Ott makes is fancy lemonade. This punch bowl, meant to serve four to six people, combines Thatcher's elderflower liqueur, prosecco, soju, lemonade, pomegranate juice and oleo-saccharum. The addition of pomegranate brightens up the drink, while the herbal notes of the elderflower heightens the overall flavor. It was originally created for Derby Day, but Ott is keeping it around into summer.
(image: Anne Fishbein)
Served in a punch-bowl-like glass, the Alaskan Fishbowl combines vodka with rhubarb puree, peach and vanilla syrup, lemon juice and soda. This bright and boozy cocktail, introduced this spring, is meant to be shared.
Bar manager James Kendall starts with malty Famous Grouse Scotch whiskey, adds smoky and syrupy Kronan Swedish Punsch and some bitter yet spicy Amaro di Angostura liqueur and finishes it off with some citrus notes via grapefruit and lime. The punch, served in bowls sourced at auctions or estate sales from around the country, stays cool with the addition of one large hand-cut ice cube without being diluted.
From the small plates to the sushi platters to the sake, Sake Rok is all about sharing, so bar manager Aby Gomez-Mercado wanted to create a punch to be enjoyed tableside. Served in an orchid-adorned punch bowl, this cocktail takes Tozai Snow Maiden Nigori sake and Hendrick's gin, then adds in fresh lemon juice and kiwi puree to create a crisp, summer punch.
At rum-focused Isla, bar manager Miguel Lopez starts with rum and blends in minty bitterness of Branca Menta with the citrus sweetness of pineapple gomme and lime juice before finishing it off with Champagne. You'll get a rolling flow of flavor starting with sweetness, then bitter floral and ending on a refreshing dry note.
Bloody Marys and Mimosas are great brunch cocktails, but sometimes you want to go in a different direction from the expected. Enter the Brunch Punch. Beverage director Keith Nelson starts with vodka as a neutral base spirit and mixes in cold-pressed Hamlin and Valencia orange juice, Persian lime juice, pineapple, fresh strawberries, nutmeg and mint. The punch bowl then gets a festive, tropical feel with floating edible orchids. Can you think of a more glam way to spend a Sunday?
(image: Justin Levy)
Mixing your cocktail