Forget the watered down, sickly sweet punch of your party-hearty past—a crafted batch cocktail can elevate summer entertaining if you follow a few easy rules. Stephanie Jamison, beverage manager of Ipswich’s Salt Kitchen & Rum Bar, says to start with rum. “Despite the sugary stigma it has, rum is a very versatile spirit,” which makes it the perfect one-bottle spirit base for punches and pitcher drinks.
Steeped in history, this molasses-based tipple was a favorite for swashbuckling pirates, seafaring captains, and revolutionary politicians. Simply put, it pleases all palates. From white to gold, spiced to aged, rum styles are as diverse as the geographic areas from which they hail. The recent rum renaissance has even brought several craft distilleries to our own backyard, like Ipswich’s Privateer Rum and Old Ipswich Rum from Turkey Hill Distilleries.
When it comes to mixing with rum, Jamison recommends following the flavor profile, which tends to comprise notes of vanilla, caramel, tropical fruits, and oak. The key is to maintain a balance between sweet and sour ingredients. “Pair white rums with lighter citrus ingredients and try the amber/aged rums with more savory tastes.”
Verano From Salt Kitchen & Rum Bar
- 1 large bunch of mint (40-50 leaves
- 8 orange slices
- 4 oz. cherry juice
- 8 fresh cherries
- 2 oz. fresh lime juice
- 2 oz. blood orange puree
- 8 oz. Old Ipswich White Cap Rum
Stir all ingredients together in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Add ice cubes made from blood orange juice (to avoid watering it down). Serve over ice and top with ginger ale.
Batching any cocktail is tricky if you don’t pay attention to two important things: proportions and ice. Here are some tips:
• Don’t be daunted by drinks for a dozen. Jamison’s tip is to make just one tasty cocktail and then multiply the measurements (resist the urge to dump a bunch of bottles together!).
• The biggest batch drink blunder is watering it down with too much ice. “The trick [to] keeping it cold without diluting it is to use some variation of ice to chill the drink instead of straight water—you retain better flavor,” she says. For example, if your recipe calls for pineapple juice, freeze it into cubes to chill the punch, or even better, use frozen grapes or other fruit. A large block of ice melts slower than small cubes, so repurpose that brownie pan as an ice tray.
• Lastly, Jamison likes to have soda (typically used to top punch) and any garnishes available on the side to be added to each serving.