May 13, 2014

Out-of-the-box ways to enjoy fresh spring produceThe summer heat in Austin can beat you down if you let it, but luckily you can fight back by rehydrating with some great summer party punches. Whether you are a student taking an Austin online culinary course, looking to pair your plates with a fun drink or planning a small get together with close friends, use these cool beverages as an “all-day” refreshment.

History of punch
The roots of punch stretch back to the early 17th century. When crew members of the British East India Company fleet got thirsty, their first beverage of choice was rich beer. However, the warmer climate of the Indian Ocean decreased the beer’s shelf life and the sheer volume they consumed (some historians say about 10 pints of beer per person a day) was unsustainable. So, sailors had to figure out an alternative beverage. While traveling abroad, they could only use the ingredients that were indigenous to their destinations such as citrus fruits and flowers, heavy spices and rum.

As time went on, more sailors brought their concoctions back to England and soon the drink was a staple at every British party. The beverage eventually made it to the New World when the American colonies were established. Today, punches are experiencing a revival, with mixologists creating fun and exciting elixirs every year.

Types of punches
Sparkling pomegranate – This devilishly sweet and bubbly cocktail uses simple ingredients: dark-red pomegranate juice, sparkling wine, sugar, orange slices  and your favorite dessert white wine. To make the punch, pour 3 tablespoons of sugar into a punch bowl and dissolve it with pomegranate juice. Combine the solution with the sparkling and dessert wine. Consider adding a little citrus flavor by using thinly sliced oranges, diced pineapples and pomegranate seeds.

Pineapple lime – Based on the Mexican drink agua frescas, this easy-to-make beverage uses fresh fruit, sugar and water. If you are hosting guests 21-years old and up, consider replacing the water with white rum. You will need a large pineapple cut into chunks, two limes, 7 tablespoons of sugar and two cups of cold water. Combine the sugar, water and lime juice in a blender. Slowly add the pineapple chunks until the mixture suits your taste. Strain the contents of the blender and transfer it to a serving bowl. You can serve it as is or over ice.