You may remember a bottle of Pisco I received earlier this summer. I made a couple of Chilcanos with it, but then it sat untouched until a recent barbeque at my boyfriend's place. (Yes, there have been many recently.) I brought it over, with the intention of making a variation of a spiced Pisco punch from the Waiting Room, a hotel bar in Melbourne. However, we were thirsty. And I was running late. So this recipe seemed a little too ambitious:
Spiced Pisco Punch, The Waiting Room Melbourne
100ml lime juice
500ml pineapple juice
200ml spiced pine syrup (see below)
10 dashes Absinthe or Pernod or Ricard
20 dashes Angostura bitters
400ml Pisco brandy
400ml sparkling wine
Plenty of oranges, limes and pineapples all cut into small enough chunks so that your guests can get a few pieces of garnish in their cups.
To make the spiced pine syrup, combine some pineapple juice with a little sugar, a few cardamom pods and cloves and a pinch of saffron. Reduce over the stove until syrupy and delicious.
Combine all the liquids in a bowl or jug, well in advance of your party arriving; mix, and leave to stand in the fridge. Taste before you serve and adjust accordingly.
When it comes to serving, pour the contents of the jug into a punch bowl, and add a couple of pieces of block ice and plenty of ice cubes.
Surprise! I skipped ingredients like Absinthe, cardamom pods and sparkling wine in favor of less expensive, more readily available ingredients like canned San Pellegrino Limonata and plain old seltzer. I'm not proud of this, but I also bought pre-cut pineapple. I looked for a fresh-pressed pineapple juice like Lakewood, but to no avail. So Dole it was.
I did, as suggested above, add saffron and cloves to my "pine syrup" (like simple syrup), made with pineapple juice, but I would be lying if I said I thought anyone detected their flavors.
Here's what I did. I further diced my pre-cut pineapple and put in the bottom of a plastic pitcher. Then, I poured in my "pine syrup," and added the bottle of Pisco (nearly full, minus two drinks), one can of San Pellegrino Limonata, two glasses of pineapple juice, and the juice of one lime into the pitcher. I stirred it around.
What resulted was a pineapple-Pisco concentrate with a hint of citrusy fizz that I poured over guests' small glasses of ice when it started to rain and they stampeded into the kitchen. I only filled the glasses two-thirds, and then topped them off with club soda. It was a great trick to keep the punch from tasting syrupy-sweet or going too fast until one guest exclaimed, "I WANT MINE RAW!" when I went for the seltzer. I am pretty sure that never happens at the Waiting Room in Melbourne. But it happens in Brooklyn.
TIPS FOR LAZY AND CREATIVE BOOZERS
• If you're lucky enough to live near a juice stand, get fresh pineapple juice! It is so much more delicious than the canned stuff, and you only need a couple glasses.
• If you don't fall into the "lazy" category, and have a great blender, you could even just use it to make the pineapple juice, and then you'll have leftover fruit for chopping.
• Try following the original recipe and let me know how it goes! That spiced syrup will be back in the fall.
• As always, the SodaStream machine can help you save plastic bottles and money.
Jenni Avins mixes drinks in her New York kitchen, where she also writes about food, fashion, travel, and the arts for various magazines and websites. She makes videos too. Follow her on Twitter @jenniavins