Making a punch is a great way to whip up multiple servings at once, providing plenty to pre-game with friends or allowing uninterrupted solo prep time. And who better to share the nuances of this imbibable art form than Adam Collison, owner of Brooklyn punch haven The Drink, which won best rum punch for The Crusade in New York magazine’s Best Cocktails of 2011. The bar’s menu lists 15 punch bowls, each comprising the five essential punch ingredients: spirit, citrus, sugar, water and spice. “There are all kinds of different ways to investigate spice,” Collison says. “You can use straight tea, you can cook ginger or cinnamon, or you can make intense clove syrups that are used in very small amounts.”
Fresh juice really has everything to do with whether a punch is good. Punch is basically a cocktail but much larger. All the care that goes into making a fine cocktail should go into making a punch. And the only advice beyond that is to have fun doing it. -Adam Collison
Collison recently created a popular new punch bowl offering: The Mutiny. Comprising Blanco Tequila, fresh watermelon juice, lime juice, spearmint and rhubarb bitters, the concoction is light, refreshing and complex. The sweet fruit is balanced by the citrus, while the herbs and bitters add aromatic accents and the spirit’s smokiness cuts through. “The Mutiny is ruling people’s summer right now,” Collison says.
I used this drink as the inspiration for my homemade version, dubbed Rebellion Punch. The brand of Tequila isn’t important, as long as it’s 100-percent blue agave, not a mixto (a blend of agave and other sugar-based spirits). I chose Camarena because it’s smooth, slightly fruity and nicely priced at around $20 a 750-ml. bottle. And don’t forget the bitters! This potent ingredient enhances any drink, like adding salt and pepper to food. Most higher-end spirits shops sell bitters or you can order them online; I buy mine at an Indian store in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood (aka “Curry Hill”). Fee Brothers produces a variety of flavors, including Rhubarb, Old Fashion and Whiskey Barrel Aged, and they’re fairly inexpensive at roughly $8 a 4-ounce bottle. So go ahead—get rebellious!
Rebellion Punch (4 servings)
6 ounces Blanco Tequila (such as Camarena Silver)
1 pound seedless watermelon chunks
12 dashes rhubarb bitters (such as Fee Brothers)
2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces agave nectar
3/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, plus four sprigs
Purée the watermelon in a blender until smooth, then strain out the pulp and add the juice to a pitcher, along with the Tequila and bitters. Combine the limejuice, agave nectar and mint leaves in a shaker and lightly muddle, then add to the pitcher and stir. Pour each serving into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a sprig of mint.