Remember when "summer break" consisted of never-ending pool parties, s'mores followed by scary stories around a campfire, and perpetually pink popsicle lips? (Oh, to be young!) Well, if July's scorching temperatures are making you too nostalgic for childhood, this adults-only twist on tropical fruit punch will remind you why being a grown up is so much better.
Whether it's summer sangria or something stronger, a big bowl of booze can never be a bad idea. As one not cut out for multi-tasking, I generally lack the focus to greet friends and muddle custom cocktails at the same time. My party guests usually arrive to an over-sized pitcher of a sippable something rather, along with instructions to generously serve themselves. (All while I'm hiding in the bathroom, scrambling to dry my hair!)
My preferences for drinks en masse have evolved over the years — and while the Southerner in me will forever remain attached to that oh-so-frothy sherbet and Sprite concoction — I can happily say my days of high voltage "jungle juice" are now behind me. I still love a stiff drink, but now it is much more about balance than blackout. A good punch, like anything, should have depth: it should be strong, bitter, sour, and sweet.
Say good-bye to "hunch punch" and hello to "paradise" with this modern twist on the infamous trashcan tipple (i.e. high fructose corn syrup and red dye free). Despite Everclear's anything-goes reputation, grain alcohol is actually the ideal base for this festive summer punch; its neutral taste allows the bold fruit flavors to really shine through. And if you are worried about its potency, a hefty glug of soda water helps lighten the load.
This not-from-concentrate cocktail is a far cry from the "just add fruit punch" versions out there, with lots of tropical flavor and plenty of "Hawaiian" flair. Your inner-child and teenage self thank you.
Yields approximately 2 1/2 quarts
4 cups papaya nectar, preferably organic
2 cups Everclear grain alcohol
2 cups guava juice (preferably not from concentrate)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice (preferably not from concentrate)
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
Sliced fruit, such as apples, pineapple, apricots, peaches, and mangos
2 cups soda water, dry sparkling wine, ginger ale, or ginger beer
Orange bitters, to taste (optional)
Combine papaya nectar, Everclear, guava juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and pomegranate juice in a large bowl. Stir in sliced fruit. Cover and chill for a minimum of four hours, preferably overnight.
Stir in club soda and bitters right before serving. Taste and adjust flavors, if desired. Best if chilled with a large ice ring.
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