Q: Punches have been making a comeback in craft cocktail bars for a few years. I like one to be my contribution to a party. I try to switch up the recipes, stay egalitarian enough for both sexes to imbibe, stay strictly away from anything too sweet and err on the side of deceptively easy to drink. I've been blamed for a lot of behavior best forgotten which I take a certain amount of personal pride in. I've tried classic British Navy recipes and ones borrowed from Death & Co., the Violet Hour, etc. Do you have any favorites?
A: In our opinion, punch is one of the world's greatest mysteries. How did it get invented in India in the 1600s, when neither country clubs nor sorority girls existed yet? We've spent a lot of time pondering this question over the years and are still no closer to an answer, but that's okay. Sometimes, it's best just to accept the bounty the universe bestows upon us.
As you've already discovered, punch is an unbeatable party drug and a drink we always serve at our get-togethers. It goes down easy, it's communal, and when made properly the police will show up.
A version that subscribes to your principles (which we wholeheartedly endorse) and is perfect for the summer-fall transition is something we call simply Fun Punch. (It has earned this name many times over.)
2 cups natural brown (demerara) sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup grated fresh ginger
1 gallon Cabin Still bourbon
3 gallons Simply Lemonade
2 cups freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Make a simple syrup with the sugar, water, and ginger by bringing them to a boil in a sauce pan. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and then strain. Combine the ginger-infused simple syrup and the other ingredients in a 5-gallon Culligan water bottle and shake. (You may need some help with that last step.) If you don't own a Culligan water cooler you can rent one for about 35 bucks. When you return it, it will smell like Nick Nolte has been sleeping in it for several days, but surprisingly, the company we rent from does not seem to mind this. Or at least it hasn't called us on it yet.