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How to Turn a Cocktail into a Party Punch

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Serving punch at a party

Serving punch at a party

Michael Cogliantry / The Image Bank / Getty Images

A punch is a great way to serve a group of party guests with little effort and there are many great punch recipes available. But what happens if you want to take one of your favorite cocktails and transform it into a spectacular bowl of punch? The answer is simple, you just need to do a little math.

You will also notice a handful of cocktails that are called a "Punch" but are for a single serving like a Pilgrim's Punch or Planter's Punch. This is because a punch is traditionally defined as a 5 ingredient drink no matter how many people it serves. These are ideal for multiplying for a party.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 10 minutes

Here's How:

  1. The first thing you must consider is which cocktails will work as a punch. Your heavy spirit cocktails like the Martini and Manhattan simply will not work - they are best left to a single drink because they will lose all of their spark in a punch bowl and become flat and are too intoxicating. Also, drinks that require special techniques such as muddling or layering don't make a very good punch.

    Cocktails that make good punches are those with fruit juices, wines, and sodas, or, in other words, cocktails with more non-alcoholic ingredients than liquor.

    Examples:

  2. The next part of the cocktail to punch equation is to determine the number of servings you will need. Are you entertaining a group of 25 or 50 people or hosting a small brunch of 5 or 6? Will there be other beverages offered? How long does the party last?

    It is usually safe to assume that each person will drink 2-3 servings in a 2-3 hour time period. By using this average you take into account those who will not drink any of the punch, those who have just one drink, and those who drink more. It all usually balances out and often you will find that you'll either have just enough punch or a little left over.

  3. Once you have estimated the number of servings you need it is time to do a little math. Simple multiplication is all that is needed: Multiply the quantity of each ingredient needed for a single cocktail by the number of servings.

    For example: I want to make a Hurricane punch for 20 people. Estimating that 60 servings are necessary and the average Hurricane is a taller drink so I'm going to 1/2 my single serving recipe (see tip #1), I'm going to need 60 ounces of each rum (or 2-750ml bottles) and passion fruit juice, 30 ounces of orange juice, about 1 cup each simple syrup and grenadine and the juice of about 5 limes.

  4. The last thing to take into account is ice melt. You can usually get away with a little less punch than your math in step 3 came up with because your block or ring of ice will melt and add liquid to the mix.

Tips:

  1. When making tall drinks of 6 ounces or more, reduce the recipe by half because punch servings are usually smaller. (see Hurricane example above)
  2. The average bottle of liquor is 750ml, which is equivalent to about 25 ounces. A 1-liter bottle is about 34 ounces.
  3. For large parties make enough punch in advance. Fill your punch bowl to capacity and store the remainder in pitchers in the refrigerator for a quick refill.
  4. The exception to mixing punch in advance is anything with carbonation. Add your sodas, champagne and the like to the punch bowl directly on top of the base punch. This will keep the "sparkles" fresh.
  5. Always trust your judgment. Converting cocktails to large batches is not a science and it is best to do taste tests throughout the punch making process, especially when it comes to flavor enhancers like lime juice, bitters, syrups and the like.

What You Need:

  • Cocktail Recipe
  • Cocktail Ingredients
  • Calculator (maybe)
  • Punch Bowl
  • Ring Ice
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