Sunday, July 13, 2014

Baby Blue Punch

One last stop before we break the non-alcoholic streak, I promise.  This is a recipe that I've been meaning to record for some time; it was the first large-scale non-alcoholic punch that I produced and presented in my beloved self-mix format.  Seemed appropriate since it was being served at a baby shower (also hence the name).  Alternative name: Caias' Punch, after the baby in question.

For once, a picture!  I can't take credit for the punch bowl, unfortunately, but I can claim the garnish.

I'm recreating this as best I can - I didn't write down the recipe at the time, which I regret, but I did a lot of adjusting on the go anyway.  Consider this a consolidated, streamlined version.  This also makes a lot of punch - about 9 liters in total - and I'm not going to scale it down here, but it's pretty easy to cut in half.

8 cups water
4 lbs sugar (a standard bag of the regular white stuff)
2 lbs frozen blueberries
2 vanilla beans, split
2 tbsp black peppercorns
Rind from 4 medium lemons
16 oz lemon juice
12 mint sprigs

Place the lemon rinds in a non-reactive bowl and pour a couple ounces of sugar over them.  Muddle the peels until the sugar begins absorbing the oil and set aside.  Combine the water, sugar, vanilla, and peppercorns in a large stock pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the blueberries and lemon peels, including the oil-soaked sugar, and bring back up to a simmer.  Turn off the heat, add the mint sprigs, and let stand and cool for 2-4 hours.

Add the lemon juice and adjust to taste; you can easily add a bit more lemon juice, sweetener (honey would be nice here) or vanilla extract if desired.  Carefully strain the whole concoction into the storage vessels of your choice - I love my reserved pair of 1.75L Tanqueray bottles, featuring convenient transport handles!

To serve, pour your storage vessel into a large punch bowl over ice, and add an equal volume of cold water.  Top off with soda water to taste; a full liter was just about right for 1.75 liters of syrup plus 1.75 liters of water.  Yep, that's 4.5 total liters, and that's why you want a large punch bowl.  Keep refreshed with plentiful ice and serve next to some chilled white wine for spritzers, a bottle of gin for highballs, a couple of jiggers for measuring, and brief instructions.  My personal favorite combination wound up being about 1 oz gin, 3 oz wine, and 5 oz punch.

Optionally, garnish with lemon wheels, speared with mint sprigs for a nice flowery look.  I took some pictures of this one which I'll add here later.

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