Four Memorial Day Party Punches to Whip Up this Weekend

A.J. Rathbun
memorial day drinks seattle magazine
The Fremont Fruit Bowl

The long and awesome Memorial Day weekend is here, and it’s the ideal time to dust off the punch bowl (or bowls, if you’re really lucky) or a large pitcher and whip up an extra big batch of goodness for friends and family. Heck, you may want to make it a punch weekend, and try out different ones on different days. That’s what long weekends are for, I think.

Day-Off Punch
This of course is ideal for an extra day away from the job. Not only because of the name, but because it’s so darn refreshing – and because it has a fair amount of kick, too (hey, you have the day off, live a little). The recipe’s from Dark Spirits.

Serves 8
Ice cubes
16 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Company rye
8 ounces sweet vermouth
8 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon, cut into slices
One 2-liter bottle ginger ale 

1. Fill a punch bowl halfway full with ice cubes or a big block of ice. Add the rye, vermouth, lemon juice, and lemons. Stir once, without a care.

2. Add the ginger ale to the bowl, but don’t rush it (there’s no call for spilling). Stir a bit, then a bit more. Serve in punch glasses.

Little Sister
Since Memorial Day often lends itself to family celebrations (I certainly have spent most of mine with my family), it only makes sense to serve up a drink celebrating siblings. While this specifically calls out younger, female siblings, there’s no need to be restrictive with the punch glasses. This one’s also from Dark Spirits.

Serves 10
Cracked ice
15 ounces brandy
10 ounces orange curaçao
5 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
5 ounces grenadine
5 ounces Simple Syrup
Two 2-liter bottles chilled club soda

1. Add the brandy, curaçao, juices, grenadine, and simple syrup to a punch bowl. Stir well.

2. Fill the bowl halfway full with cracked ice. Being sure not to spill any on the family albums, pour the club soda in slowly. Stir again and serve in punch glasses.

The Very Old Fashioned
This is an oldie (well, short-term oldie) and a goodie from celebrated Seattle bartender and spirits expert of renown Andrew Bohrer. He’s one of our local treasures because of recipes like this one, which takes a tiny bit of prep, but which delivers delicious results. It could be made in a punch bowl, but a pitcher might be safer depending on your punch bowl sturdiness.

1 approximately 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (about 4 ounces)
12 ounces simple syrup
Two 750-milliliter bottles 2bar Spirits bourbon
16 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce Angostura bitters
Ice cubes 

1. Combine the ginger and the simple syrup in a sturdy large pitcher. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle these new friends (but don’t get wacky about it, just be firm).

2. Add the bourbon, bitters, and orange juice. Stir well.

3. Fill as many punch cups (or highball glasses, or other glasses that make you grin) as there are guests three-quarters full with ice cubes. Pour this equally amongst the cups.

Fremont Fruit Bowl
This recipe was adapted from the book Adventures in Wine Cookery, published in 1965 by the Wine Advisory Board. I’m not sure it was created specifically for the Seattle neighborhood that shares the same name, but I am sure that serving this in that neighborhood is a great idea (as well as in any neighboring neighborhoods, or other WA neighborhoods)

Serves 10
3 fresh peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
3 fresh apricots, pitted and cut into wedges
3 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
Block of ice, or cracked ice
5 ounces apricot liqueur
5 ounces maraschino liqueur
One 750-milliliter bottle Australian Riesling
One 750-milliliter bottle chilled Brut Champagne or sparkling white wine

1. Add the peaches, apricots, and strawberries to a large punch bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir them together, being just a little brisk, as you want them to be well mixed.

2. Add the apricot and maraschino liqueurs. Stir well with your wooden spoon.

3. Add a block of ice to the bowl, or, if using cracked ice, fill the bowl almost halfway with ice.

4. Add the Riesling and the Champagne, concurrently (this makes both feel an equal part of the festivities). Stir well, again. Serve in punch cups, white wine glasses, or sculpted goblets.