Four refreshing punch recipes to celebrate summer

Chill out this summer with some fun and fruity drinks.
Chill out this summer with some fun and fruity drinks. Photo: iStock

If there's a party drink that says summer, it's punch. Fruity and fun, it's the beverage for sharing and making with friends, even your sober-curious mates.   

In their new compilation, Punch, Globe-trotting cocktail expert Shaun Byrne and Melbourne bartender Nick Tesar share 50 original recipes inspired by flavours and festivities from around the world.

Here are four easy and refreshing ways to celebrate the hot days ahead.

Strawberry Pimm's Slushie

In the English town of Henley on the River Thames, thousands of people come together each year for the summer spectacle that is the Royal Regatta: a rowing festival that lasts for five days. People camp in neighbouring fields and congregate for a very English picnic of sandwiches and Pimm's (a classical fruit cup drink).

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 punnets of strawberries
  • 500ml (2 cups) lemonade (lemon soda)
  • 500ml (2 cups) ginger ale
  • bunch of mint
  • 1 cucumber
  • 500ml (2 cups) Pimm's

METHOD

To prep: Begin at least 24 hours before serving. Hull the strawberries and blitz to a puree in a food processor. Combine with lemonade and ginger ale. Freeze into ice cubes. For garnish pick the mint sprigs from the stems and refrigerate, ready to serve. Slice the cucumber into discs and refrigerate, ready to serve.

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To serve: Put the ice cubes into a hand ice crusher and crush directly into your picnic cups. Top with Pimm's and garnish with cucumber slices and mint sprigs.

Serve in a hand ice crusher; drink out of picnic cups.

Tip: Don't get too close to the edge of the river after a few of these; you might fall in.

Gin, Tea and Tonic

The British considered Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) a colony from 1815 to 1948 and were instrumental in bringing tea to the island, which now produces some of the best black teas in the world; those from the Uva province are particularly good. Tea has been used in punch for centuries and is a popular ingredient for the "weak" element in a recipe. Combine this with another British staple, the G&T, and it stands to reason that you'll have a positively dandy time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Calamansi limes (see tip)
  • 50g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 30g Ceylon black tea leaves
  • 1 Ceylon cinnamon stick (see tip)
  • tropical fruit of your choice (try to find something local and seasonal), to garnish
  • 400ml gin
  • 600ml tonic water

METHOD

To prep: Begin at least 12 hours before serving. Zest the limes, adding the zest to a container with 500ml water. Put the limes in the fridge for juicing later. Add the sugar, tea and cinnamon to the container, then stir to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerate for 12 hours.

To serve: Prepare the tropical fruit garnishes. Strain the tea soak into your serving bowl, discarding the solids. Squeeze in the lime juice, then add the gin and stir to combine. Gently top with tonic, then finish with ice. Garnish with the tropical fruits.

Serve in porcelain punch bowl with bamboo ladle; drink out of fine china teacups.

Tip: If you can't get a hold of Calamansi limes, you can substitute with regular limes: just use three and add an extra 20g sugar. Also make sure you check your cinnamon sticks; Ceylon cinnamon is desirable over cassia as it is altogether sweeter and subtler. 

On a Boat

The International Date Line runs through the Pacific Ocean, marking the point of each new day. Because of its geographical position, Kiritimati (Christmas Island) is one of the first places to ring in the New Year, with Baker Island being one of the last. Being less than 1000km apart, it is conceivable that you could enjoy the New Year's festivities on one island, then catch a boat to the other and do it all again. With this much indulgence it is important to stay hydrated, which is why this recipe contains coconut water and mineral salts.

INGREDIENTS

  • 300ml coconut water
  • 5g mineral salts
  • 200ml brandy
  • 150ml pineapple juice
  • 100ml grenadine
  • 750ml sparkling wine
  • party hats and sparklers

METHOD

To prep: Begin at least 10 minutes before serving. Combine the coconut water and salts (see tip), and stir to dissolve.

To serve: In a cocktail tin, combine the brandy and pineapple juice. Shake with a few ice cubes to froth up, then pour into the champagne bucket. Add the coconut water and grenadine, stir to combine, then top with sparkling wine. Ladle into flutes and decorate with a party hat and sparkler. Toast to the new year.

Serve in a fancy champagne bucket and ladle; drink out of champagne flutes.

Tip: The mineral salts and coconut water mix is to aid in post-indulgence recovery; make extra and refrigerate – it will come in handy in the morning.

Hydration Punch (alcohol-free)

The Atacama Desert in Chile is incredibly beautiful and deserves a visit, but it is also one of the driest places on earth. It's so dry, in fact, that NASA has conducted similar testing to that performed on Mars to measure the capacity for the planet to support life. With a visit to such a dry place it is important to stay hydrated, so we've concocted the ultimate thirst-quenching punch. Even if you aren't heading to the desert, this drink will keep you well hydrated during your next summer party.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 litre (4 cups) coconut water
  • 500ml (2 cups) aloe vera juice
  • 100g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 10g hibiscus tea leaves
  • 5g salt
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cucumber

METHOD

To prep: Begin at least 2 hours before serving. Combine all the ingredients except the lemon and cucumber in a container. Stir to combine and leave to macerate in the fridge for 2 hours. Strain and refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice the lemons into wheels and the cucumber into discs and refrigerate, ready to serve.

To serve: Pour the punch into a water dispenser, along with the lemon and cucumber. Place the dispenser on the table and allow guests to hydrate at their leisure. Serve with a bucket of ice and a scoop.

Serve in mini water dispenser; drink out of paper cups.​

Tip: This recipe loves to be scaled up and can be kept in the fridge quite conveniently for those hotter days when you aren't entertaining.

This is an edited extract from Punch by Shaun Byrne and Nick Tesar, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $24.99. Buy now