Food & Drink

12 pro summer punches that'll make you the coolest person at the BBQ party

Posted by
Chris Sayer
Published
  • Share
  • Tweet

London’s finest barkeeps on how to up your booze game in time for all those summer party invites

Let’s get one thing very clear here. The next couple of paragraphs are not, NOT, a personal attack on beer. Beer and us? We’re tight. We good. We’ve got a ‘special relationship’. It’s love.

But - and it pains the very core to ‘but’ – we’ve found a problem. It’s not the best drink for a summer BBQ.

*shocked gasps* *people fainting* *children screaming* *dogs howling*

Please, let us finish. It’s not the best drink to buy for someone else’s summer BBQ. Invariably, when you take a fistful of suds, one of two things will happen – you’ll drop a small mortgage on twelve absolutely magnificent micro-brewed craft beers only for some sticky-fingered gremlin to pilfer them from the ice box; OR, you’ll fully predict the first scenario, act on it, and get caught red-handed filling the cooler with dirt-cheap pondwater lager, resulting in you feeling completely unworthy of the Taste The Difference quarter-pounder that your host has just ‘accidentally’ smushed into your palm.

Advertisement

So, don’t take beer to the next BBQ party you’re invited to. Make and take one of these super simple turbo punches instead. Not only are they all designed by some fine London booze pros, but they’re all created with epic ingredients, show-off techniques, and smugly simple processes - that they can’t help becoming the centrepiece of any party. And that means everyone’s gonna know who brought it along: this guy (we’re pointing at you btw). 

Pour ‘em out, and bathe in the respect you deserve…

The Bathtub Bomb

You need:

2 parts tequila

1 part lime juice

1 part sugar syrup

3 parts grapefruit juice

3 parts ginger ale

“A good punch is all about ratio: if you stick to two parts booze, one part citrus juice, one part sugar syrup, three parts fruit juice and three parts fizzy, you’ve nailed it. Use your ingredients in any amount of quantity and with lots of different variations. It’s a great way to use those dodgy bottles of booze that your friends bring you back from their holidays. This recipe, though, is one I made in my bathtub at a house party last year, and next morning just pulled the plug and took a shower to wash away the evidence! Chuck in handfuls of raspberries, wedges of pink grapefruit and some ginger slices too, and you are good to go.” - Tom Soden, co-founder Nine Lives and The Gunmakers

The Naughty Cuppa

You need:

1 punnet of strawberries

Half a cucumber

3 stalks of mint

2 tbs of honey

1 lemon, juiced

1 handful of ice cubes

300ml of gin

2 jasmine tea bags

1 bottle of chilled sparkling wine (preferably English)

“If you can make a cup of tea, you can make this. The last thing I want to be doing when the sun’s out is fluffing about, trying to prepare some ridiculous cocktail. This is ideal. Just pop the tea bags into the gin for as long as it takes for you to head to the shops to get all your other ingredients, then add the lot (minus the wine) to a blender and blitz. Pour about 100ml into a champagne glass and top up with the fizz. It’s equal parts classy and easy.” - Dustin MacMillan, bar brands manager at Mark’s Bar at Hixter Bankside 

Advertisement

The Killer Char-Griller

You need:

5 parts gin

2 parts fruit brandy 

1 part homemade fruit sugar syrup (jam plus boiling water)

Ice cubes

Grilled fruit

“The only ‘work’ involved with this is throwing your fruitbowl onto the BBQ. Oranges, strawberries, lemons… anything that can take a grilling. That’s pretty much it. Blend your liquid ingredients with the ice, and pour into a jug, before adding the fruit. The charred fruit adds a real show-stopping visual and complex taste to the drink – you’ll get sweetness, bitterness, and smokiness, and a load of compliments from your guests. Take this to the next level by grilling and blackening some rhubarb too!” - Matt Varona, bar manager at Carousel

Sherbet Devils

You need:

Caster sugar

Citrus fruits

Assorted fresh fruit

Berries

Herbs

Water

Any spirit

Any sparking wine

“My favourite way to make punches at home it to use sherbets. They’re so easy to make – just peel the zest from any citrus fruits you might have, chop up an assortment of fresh fruit, whole berries and fresh herbs, then leave in a bowl of caster sugar overnight. In the morning, add water to turn it into a syrup, and then add your alcoholic spirit of choice and lengthen with sparking line. Add some extra citrus juice at the end for balance. So many variations to explore.” - Guy Mazuch, head bartender at Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell

The Smokin’ Mexican

You need:

2 pineapples

4 cups brown sugar

1.5 litres boiling water

10 cloves, whole

1 tbs ground cinnamon

35ml Freya Birch spirit

10ml Amaro Averna liqueur

10ml Mezcal

10ml citrus

Ice

“Okay, so it takes a bit of time this one, and you may need to do a bit of a shop. But trust me, this is the most perfectly balanced cocktail you’ll make all summer. Two days before your party, make a ‘tepache’ by dissolving the sugar in a big Kilner jar of hot water, than adding the peel and core of both pineapples and the spices. Cover the jar with cheese cloth and leave to ferment for 48 hours at room temperature, then strain it into a bottle. Add 50ml of the finished tepache into the shaker with the rest of your liquid ingredients, combine and pour over ice. Then, all that’s left to do is agree with me that the slight effort was totally worth it.” - Matyas Barta, bar manager of Aster restaurant

Advertisement

The Milky Blindsider

You need:

550ml milk

100ml lemon juice

Peel of 6 lemons

Peel of 6 oranges

2 cinnamon sticks

2 vanilla pods

50ml almond syrup

100ml peppermint tea

100ml banana liqueur

150ml cognac

150ml Irish whiskey

“I’m sure many would view clarifying milk as an over-complicated process, when in actuality all it takes is a pot, a stove, some lemon juice and a fine mesh to strain it through. Mix your milk and lemon juice together, bring to a light simmer, strain a couple times and cover to cool in the fridge. Remove cover and strain again to remove any solids. Your result is a crystal clear, silky liquid that’ll mix with lots of different ingredients to form a great refreshing homemade punch. Here’s a recipe for an Irish whiskey and cognac based one you can try yourself – just steep everything to punchbowl, add a ladle, and let the people find out for themselves how good it is.” - Jason Glynn, bartender at The Sun Tavern

Bobby’s Bung-It-In

You need:

8 lemons, peeled and juiced

200g sugar

700ml of booze (rum, whiskey, gin, vodka, whatever)

700ml strong black tea, cooled

“Bung everything in a bowl. Leave for an hour. Take out the lemon peels. Add ice. Grate some nutmeg in. You’re done.” - Bobby Hiddleston, co-owner of Swift

The Basil-Pineapple Power Couple

You need:

60ml white rum

20ml mezcal

300gm grilled pineapple slices

Pinch of salt

100gm caster sugar

30ml lime juice

12 fresh basil leaves

Mint syrup ice cubes (1 bunch of mint; 200g caster sugar; and 200ml water)

1 bottle prosecco

I have a long-standing creative relationship with basil and pineapple. As a combo these ingredients make such a deep savoury, sweet, and sour flavour that it hits pretty much all of your taste buds. And the as ice cubes (which you’re making by picking and chopping the mint leaves and simmering in a pan with the water and sugar until boiled before cooling and freezing) melt, the drink becomes even more refreshing. Start by making a pineapple puree by blitzing your grilled fruit with the sugar and salt. Add it to a jug with the ice cubes, and stir, before adding the prosecco and basil leaves. Stir gently again and pour out. Ooosh, that’s summer right there.” - Chris O’Neil, bar manager at temper restaurants

Advertisement

Grandma’s Dancing Juice

You need:

350ml gin

200ml Aperol

150ml fresh grapefruit juice

225ml fresh lime juice

150ml pomegranate syrup

75ml sugar syrup

Soda water

“Gin and Aperol are more popular than ever, so this summer is the time to make friends with them. At Bobby Fitzpatrick, we make a bowl of this in honour of Bobby’s own grandmother, Eunice. To make Eunice’s Gin Punch, just pour all ingredients into an ice-filled bowl, stir, garnish with orange and grapefruit wheels and let guests help themselves.” - Alessandro Paludet, group bar manager at Urban Leisure Group (inc. Graphic and The Gallery, and Bobby Fitzpatrick)

The Prez

You need:

1tsp Grated Nutmeg

100ml brown sugar syrup

150ml lime juice

300ml Ceylon Arrack

400ml Darjeeling green tea

I stumbled onto this recipe when researching the history behind Dishoom’s Shoreditch café. It is one of the oldest punch recipes in the world, the first recording was written down in 1694 by General Sir John Gayer, Governor of the East India Company’s Bombay ‘Presidency’. I loved the history behind the recipe, so adapted it into a sharing concoction for our guests. It’s so fresh, so easy to drink, and so easy to make – everything just goes into a bowl.” - Carl Brown, bar development manager at Dishoom

Six-Booze Berry Sangria 

You need:

Strawberries

Raspberries

Blackberries

Half lime, sliced

One orange, sliced

Small bunch of mint

250ml vodka

150ml rum

150ml Cointreau

100ml Gomme syrup

150ml dry port wine

300ml lemonade

Champagne/sparkling wine (to top up glasses)

Ice

“In my book, sangria is the best summer drink going. I was born to watch the sun set with you. Want to tweak it out? Prepare an assorted fruit skewer and freeze it the night before to use it as a posh stirrer come showtime.” - Tiago Serrao, bar manager at Galvin at Windows

Advertisement

The Harvey Grillbanger

You need:

Vodka

Galliano liqueur

10 oranges, halved

1 orange, sliced 1cm thick

Ice

Maraschino cherries (for garnish)

I drank this throughout the summer of 2014 when me and my pals came across a free case of Galliano off the back of a lorry. Not ones to let anything go to waste, we got through it in three months by making this twist on the classic Harvey Wallbanger. Start by getting the coals on your BBQ white hot, then grilling your halved oranges until caramelised. Do the same with the sliced orange, but use to garnish your glasses. Then juice your orange halves and add to each glass with 50ml of vodka. Carefully add 1 tbsp of Galliano to the top to create a separate layer, knock back with your closest buds and repeat.” - Scott Munro, founder of Red’s True BBQ