“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
– George Bernard Shaw
As an only child, I have always attached enormous significance to holidays. Without siblings or extended family to help create a festive mood, I tend to go a bit overboard. If one Christmas tree is good, wouldn’t two be amazing? And why have only one pie at Thanksgiving when I can make two – or even three? But Easter, well, as an adult, Easter has always stumped me.
Leaving religion out of it for a minute, this is really the only holiday that is purely for children. As adults, we share presents at Christmas, on Halloween we give out candy and dress for parties, on St. Patrick’s Day we raise a glass. But Easter. All that egg coloring, and hiding, and hunting. All those jelly beans and bunnies and baskets. Oh my.
The older I got, the more I felt a certain childhood longing every time Easter came around. I wanted to go on egg hunts and dress up for Easter brunch. I dreamed of excelsior-filled baskets brimming with bunny bevy. But, as an adult, you sort of have to play it cool at Easter. Easter is for the little ones.
When my son finally came along, it was a mind-blowing, life-altering experience. Any parent will tell you that a kid changes everything. What they don’t tell you is this – when you have a child, holidays rock. I now have carte blanche to decorate with abandon no matter what the time of year. Our holiday “tree” has a special place in the living room where it stands ready for the seasonal switcheroo. Right now, not surprisingly, it’s decked out in hanging eggs. (You’re wondering about Cinco de Mayo? Got it covered – a blow-up cactus (no jokes please) and mini-piñatas. Olé!) With my son here, I can act like Martha Stewart on steroids all in the name of being a “good mother”.
Have I taken it too far? Maybe. Does my kid appreciate it? Probably not. But the truth is, it’s fun — and fun is something that is often forgotten in the midst of adult worries and woes. And I suddenly realized that the sense of “childhood longing” I was feeling was really just a desire to inject a bit more fun into my life. Instead of all work, I just wanted a little bit of play.
Even with all the perks of adulthood, do we ever really want to grow up? I don’t think so. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons for today’s obscene commercialization of holidays. Sure it’s gone too far, but, subliminally, it’s tacit permission to not only embrace the celebration hook line and sinker, but to do it like the kids we all used to be.
Which brings me to… punch. At 12 Bottle Bar, we are obviously big fans of the stuff. We’ve done more than fifteen posts devoted to various “punches”– from the brunch stalwart Brandy Milk Punch to the pirate favorites Bumbo and Grog to our own non-alcoholic Halloween tipple, the Poison Apple. Punch is great for a party, encourages socializing over the bowl, and isn’t as alcoholic as a cocktail. It’s also history in a glass, being the “original” mixed drink long before the cocktail and its brethren came on the scene.
Like all drinks, punch was of its time, a drink that invited long hours lingering over a communal bowl. As David Wondrich says in his definitive Punch, “It’s not Punch if there’s nobody to drink it.” But, times changed, people got busy, and standing over the punch bowl looked more like loitering than socializing. The single-serving punch begat the cocktail and the rest is history. Folks could now shoot down their booze with efficiency. The allure of punch was lost until recently when bartenders and cocktail mavens came back to their senses and realized that punch is overflowing in merits, the most important of which is – fun.
It’s the “fun” part that concerns me today. Who among us doesn’t have a childhood punch memory? Perhaps it’s the “fruit juicy red” flavor of Hawaiian Punch with its appalling 5% fruit juice. Or, maybe Kool-Aid on a hot summer day. Or, perhaps you were the wild child who spiked the prom punch bowl. Whatever your moment, if it’s about punch, it’s got to be good.
For me, it’s those fizzy sherbet concoctions that seemed to be reserved only for birthday parties and holidays. My favorite was lime sherbet with 7UP, the sherbet bubbling up as the soda hit it, creating that perfect combination of citrus and sugar.
Historically, the latter potion really isn’t so far removed from some of the original punch recipes. Switch out the 7UP for Champagne and you’ve essentially got a Champagne Punch. And the classic Punch à la Romaine combines citrus juices with frothed egg whites, freezing them to create a sherbet-like component to the mix.
So here we are with Easter fast approaching and the need to booze it up. We wanted to create an Easter punch that combined the best of both worlds – the indulgence of youth (fizzy sorbet) and the privilege of adulthood (boozy goodness). And we wanted something a bit unorthodox, not just the standard “punch in a cup” recipe, but rather a palate cleanser that could lead us to dessert. Our Easter Sorbet Punch — a combination of gin, pineapple juice, and mint syrup in frozen form nestled in a pool of Champagne — is something of a deconstruction, but one that works. Should you be so inclined, a non-alcoholic version requires substituting 7UP or ginger ale for the champagne and, of course, leaving the gin out of the sorbet.
The result, we think, is a wonderful marriage of Easter flavors. But more than that, it satisfies our inner child, the need to be playful even when the weight of adult life intrudes. This Easter, why not, make some punch and channel your inner Peter Pan? And, if you think you’re just too sophisticated for this tipple, think again. As Casey Stengel said, “the trick is growing up without growing old.”
1 cup Water
1 cup Pineapple Juice, strained
1 cup Rich Mint Syrup (see below)
6 oz Dry Gin
Yellow food coloring
1 cup Water
2 cups Fruit Juice, strained
1 cup Rich Simple Syrup (2 parts sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
1. Stir together all ingredients to gently combine.
2. (Optional) Add four or more drops food coloring to achieve desired brightness.
3. Transfer to a non-reactive container and freeze until frozen
4. Scoop the frozen mixture into a blender and blend until smooth
5. Return the mixture to the freezer container and freeze until needed
Rich Mint Syrup
Cover a handful of fresh mint leaves with rich (2 parts sugar, 1 part water) simple syrup. Leave to stand, covered, overnight. Remove leaves.