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Author Notes: When I was growing up, the adult members of my family partook of alcohol in the form of highballs, old-fashioneds, Rob Roys, martinis, Manhattans, etc., so my first experience with punch didn't occur until high school. I attended an all-girls Catholic school, complete with plaid uniforms, four years of Latin, and nuns with black habits. (That's what they wore, not what they did. I think). At any rate, every couple of months, in order to stave off complete social retardation on our part, a "mixer" would be organized in which the students at nearby all-boys Catholic high schools would be invited to our gym for an evening of dancing and "light" refreshments. The dancing part was seldom outstandingly successful, as Sister Mary Joseph, Sister Mary Aloysius and Sister Mary Paul made it their business as chaperones to swoop in on unsuspecting couples clinging to one another during slow dances and remind them to "leave room for the Holy Spirit." I am not making this up. The refreshments invariably featured a plate of cookies baked by someone's mom and Sister Mary Daniel's fruit punch in a big crystal bowl with little cups handing off the sides by their handles. (We weren't allowed to use the crystal cups, of course, we had drink out of the paper cups lined up alongside). The punch at the beginning of the evening, however, was markedly different than the iteration a half-hour later, after several of our visitors had distracted Sister Mary Daniel and surreptitiously spiked it with whatever vodka, gin, scotch, bourbon and/or rye they had pilfered from their parents' liquor cabinets. Woohoo!! I cannot swear to it, but I believe this is how Long Island Iced Tea was first created. This recipe uses Tennessee sour mash whiskey, which I find to be less sweet than bourbon, and is inspired by Marcus Samuelsson's Grapefruit Bourbon Sours. —wssmom
Makes: about 1 gallon
Ginger-scented simple syrup
1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
2-3 quarter-sized slices peeled fresh ginger
- In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water and ginger to a boil. Simmer for a minute until the sugar has dissolved, let cool and remove the ginger.
1/2 cup ginger-scented simple syrup, reserving the rest as needed
8 cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, preferably Ruby Red, chilled
4 cups Jack Daniel's or other Tennessee sour mash whiskey, or more, depending on how frisky you want everyone to be
2 teaspoons Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6, more to taste
2 12-ounce cans seltzer or club soda, chilled
1/4 cup St. Germaine
a bunch of mint sprigs
- In a punch bowl, mix together a half-cup simple syrup, the grapefruit juice, Jack Daniel's, bitters, seltzer and St. Germaine. The sweetness will depend on the sweetness of the grapefruit, you can add more simple syrup as needed.
- To keep it cold, you can make an ice ring by freezing some water in a bundt pan and then sliding it into the punch bowl so it floats around, iceberg-like . If you feel ambitious, you can add a jar of good cocktail cherries and mint sprigs to the ice ring before you freeze it so it looks festive. Or you can just use a bunch of ice cubes. The ice ring is a nice touch, though. Sister Mary Daniel would have approved.
- Surround the punch bowl with some pretty glasses into which you have placed mint sprigs (my Kentucky friends won't drink bourbon unless it has mint sprigs) and put on some slow-dancing music for the guests. Something like "On Bended Knee" by Boyz II Men, or "This I Swear" by Nick Lachey, and, of course, "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers. And don't forget to leave room for ....
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Punch