Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.
Today: Food52's Assistant Editor Kenzi Wilbur shows us how to make boozy party punch with whatever is lingering in your liquor cabinet.
Let's be real: it isn't a holiday party until there's punch. Who else is going to give you the courage to let loose all of your cocktail party facts, your recitation of this book, and your casual mentionings of the latest profile in the New Yorker?
Yes, you'll need a large bowl of it -- but you won't need a recipe. All you'll need is a ratio, and the ability to stir. (You won't even need a punch bowl -- use the best large bowl in your cabinet -- though you get bonus points for pulling out the fine crystal.)
Just pour, gently mix, and serve; then pass the good will -- bestowing this ratio on your friends will be your best cocktail party knowledge yet.
Ready? Commit this to memory: 2 parts booze : 2 parts wine : 2 parts juice (optional) : 1/2 to 1 part sweet
For the booze, use your favorite; for the wine, bubbles are best, white wine works, hard cider is nice with apple and rye; for the sweet, use your judgment. We like to use simple syrup, or you can add a sweet liqueur, like St. Germain if you're making gin punch, or Domaine de Canton if your batch wants a gingery kick.
We love gin with grapefruit juice, mint simple syrup, and sparkling wine. We'd happily sip the same with bourbon instead of gin. Give us seconds of rum, lager, and brown sugar simple syrup. Have fun with this -- it's a party, after all.
The most important part? Taste as you go. If your juice is quite sweet (cider, pomegranate juice), go easy on the simple syrup or liqueur. Taste. If it's tart (grapefruit, lemon), add more. Taste again.
How to Make Punch Without a Recipe
1. Make the simple syrup, if you're using one: dissolve one part sugar in an equal amount of water over medium heat. If you want to be fancy like we were here, throw in aromatics or herbs to infuse at the end, and let everything steep off the heat. Cool. Make an ice ring, or make sure you have ice cubes for serving.
2. Ready all of your non-carbonated ingredients -- mostly likely this will mean taking off their caps -- and pour them into a punch bowl (or a container if you're doing this ahead). Stir, then chill until it's party time.
3. Add any bubbles you're using right at the last minute. Garnish with whatever makes you happy: mint leaves, citrus slices, and candied cranberries are all fair game. Serve. Sip. Repeat.
What do you put in your punch? Tell us in the comments!
We're looking for contributors! Email [email protected] and tell us the dish you make in your sleep, without a recipe.
Photos by James Ransom