How to Make Punch That Will Be the Star of Your Next Party
Tart or sweet, cold or hot, punch is an ideal solution for serving up a big batch of party drinks. No need to take individual orders. Just make up a batch before the gathering and serve, allowing you time to enjoy your company. Here's how to make punch that will keep guests coming back for more.
Whether you've got a backyard barbecue, birthday, or holiday gathering, preparing punch is an easy way to ensure everyone's cups stay full. By knowing the right ratio of fruit juice, water, and carbonated beverage, as well as other tasty add-ins, you can mix and match to create a variety of punch recipes. To get you started, we've got a delicious base recipe that will work with all sorts of flavors. By using our easy formula, you'll know how to make fruit punch, rum punch, sherbet punch, and more. If you want to add an ice ring for a classic presentation, we'll show you how to make one of those, too.
How to Make Punch
This basic recipe will allow for 1 gallon of punch, which is enough for sixteen 8-ounce servings.
Step 1: Make the Punch Base and Chill
In a large pitcher or bowl combine 4 cups water and one 12-oz. can frozen juice concentrate from the options below. Add 1 cup sugar; stir until dissolved. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap; chill at least 4 hours. Here are some juice concentrate options you could choose from to mix with the water and sugar:
- Cranberry juice
- Orange juice
- Pineapple juice
Step 2: Choose a Juice
Just before serving, pour the chilled juice mixture into a large punch bowl. Stir in 2½ cups of a juice blend from the following options:
- Cranberry-apple juice
- Pineapple-orange-banana juice blend
- Pink grapefruit juice
- Pomegranate juice
- Raspberry juice blend
- Strawberry juice blend
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Step 3: Choose a Carbonated Beverage
Slowly stir in one 2-liter bottle carbonated beverage from the following options:
- Cream soda
- Ginger ale
- Lemon-lime carbonated beverage
- Orange carbonated beverage
- Strawberry carbonated beverage
Step 4: Choose Optional Stir-Ins
If desired, add an ice ring (more on that below) and 1 cup stir-ins from the following options. If you want to learn how to make alcoholic punch (like a rum punch recipe) or you just want to dress up your punch with some spare fruit slices or fresh herbs, this is the time to stir in your extras. Use one or more of these stir-in options:
- Citrus fruit slices
- Kiwifruit slices
- Rum, vodka, gin, bourbon, or tequila
- Sherbet or sorbet
- Sliced fresh strawberries
- Fresh raspberries
Make-Ahead Punch Tip: Prepare punch through Step 2, except do not add the carbonated beverage or, if using, ice ring and stir-ins. Cover and chill up to 24 hours. Add carbonated beverage, ice ring, and stir-ins just before serving.
How to Make an Ice Ring
If you want to learn how to make punch for a party, consider adding an ice ring. Not only are they attractive, but they can also keep your beverage cold for an hour or more. You can use a 10-inch tube pan ($15, Bed Bath & Beyond) or a fluted cake pan for your mold. Silicone pans also work well. Make sure the ice ring will fit into your punch bowl. To make sure the ice ring does not dilute the punch as it melts, use extra punch instead of water.
- Add a little drama: You can make an ice ring using just the punch, but they're even more attractive when they're made with fruit like orange, lemon and/or lime slices; cherries; sliced strawberries; raspberries; or blackberries. You can also use edible flowers or mint leaves. Arrange these into the pan.
- Layer fruits in the pan: Fill the mold with about 1 inch punch or water; freeze until solid. This will hold the add-ins in place and keep them from floating. Once frozen, fill the mold with another inch of punch or water; freeze until solid. Continue until the mold is as full as you want it to be. To release from the pan, let the ring sit at room temperature about 20 minutes or place the mold in hot water for about 1 minute.
Garnishes for Punch
Be sure you have a ladle at the ready for serving punch. Just like a cocktail, punch is even more fun and special for your guests when you have garnishes available on the buffet table. Here are some fun ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Orange, lemon, and/or lime slices
- Fruit kabob made of pineapple slices, citrus fruit wedges, maraschino cherries, and/or strawberries
- Melon balls and/or small watermelon slices threaded onto a skewer
- Edible flowers
- Pretty ice cubes made by putting a strawberry or cherry in the center and filling trays with white grape juice
- Paper umbrellas
There's more to punch than chilled versions. During the holidays and in the colder months, there's no better greeting than serving the family a toasty warm drink. Go for a non-carbonated punch such as hot cider or hot buttered rum. And with hot drinks, there's an added bonus of wonderful aromas wafting throughout your house. The trick is to keep the beverage hot. Smart hostesses have discovered the slow cooker works great for this (plus you don't have to keep a watchful eye on slow cooker punches).