Edible spring flowers spruce up your punch bowl

April showers bring May flowers—and May flowers bring infusions, garnishes and the compulsion to serve obscenely large drinks on the finest of porch swings.

Some of Ma Nature’s earliest blooms are also edible, including violets, Johnny jump-ups, pansies and dandelions. You will find a treasure trove of libation inspiration in Punch Bowl & Pitcher Drinks by Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia (Clarkson Potter, 2015). Gardens, fields and meadows provide a surprising source of flavors to enhance your spring sipping. Beautiful flower-filled molds and homemade simple syrups transform even the most staid cocktail into something unexpectedly spectacular.

Flowers make good playmates with cocktails. Floral notes can be easily overwhelmed when cooking, but that is not the case with cocktails. “A cocktail is much more like a spritz of perfume in that the bright, floral notes are really wonderful,” says Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist.

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When choosing blooms for culinary preparation, it’s crucial that you get them from a safe source, ensuring they haven’t been treated with pesticides or preservatives. The alcohol should be the only intoxicating substance you are ingesting, so be careful.

So this is probably the moment where I share the drink recipes that shall be featured at this Bookish Diva’s first, second, 111th gathering—and who am I to disappoint.

Diva’s Note: Please enjoy these delicious potent potables responsibly. These recipes are meant to be served at parties and not consumed Bookish Diva style in balloon goblets.

PASSION FRUIT PUNCH

A great choice for a tropical party. Frozen passion fruit pulp can be found at some specialty foods stores and supermarkets. Nonpoisonous purple orchids can be found at most florists. Serves 16

3 cups gold rum

2 cups frozen unsweetened passion fruit pulp (such as Goya)

½ cup fresh lime juice, or more to taste

2 tablespoons Cointreau

4½ × 2-inch lime peel strips

4 cups chilled mandarin orange soda

Orchid and Lime Ice Mold (see below)

Ice cubes

Nonpoisonous purple orchids (optional, for garnish)

  1.  Mix the rum, passion fruit pulp, the ½ cup of lime juice, the Cointreau, and the lime peel in a punch bowl and stir until the frozen passion fruit dissolves. Mix in the soda. Taste, adding more lime juice if desired.
  2.  Gently add the ice mold, top side facing up. Fill small cups with ice. Ladle punch into the glasses and garnish with the orchids, if desired.

ORCHID AND LIME ICE MOLD

Fill a 2-quart mold with water to 2 inches from the top. Add a few orchids, sliced limes, and halved passion fruit, if available (the fruit and leaves will float). Freeze overnight or wrap the frozen mold tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to one month. To release, turn the mold upside down. Place under running water until the ice releases.

Tasty and easy!
Tasty and easy!

RASPBERRY-ROSE PUNCH

Rose water is sold at some groceries, specialty foods stores, and Middle Eastern markets. The light musky flavor of the rose water will be cut right through by the fresh lime juice and sweet green tea. Serves 8

2 6-ounce baskets fresh raspberries (or 12 ounces frozen, thawed)

½ cup sugar

2 cups brewed green tea, chilled

⅔ cup fresh lime juice

½  to 1 cup gin, to taste

¼ teaspoon rose water

1 1/3 cups chilled sparkling water

1 Raspberry Ice Mold (see below)

Unsprayed red and pink rose petals (optional, for garnish)

Ice cubes

  1. Thoroughly mash the berries and sugar in a small bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Strain the berries through a sieve set over a large bowl, pressing firmly on the fruit with a rubber spatula. Discard the seeds and mix the tea, lime juice, ½ cup gin, and rose water into the strained berry puree. Stir in the sparkling water and taste, adding up to ½ cup more gin if a stronger flavor is desired. Gently place the ice mold in a punch bowl, with the top side facing up. Pour the punch over the mold. Scatter rose petals over the punch, if desired.
  3. Fill 8 cups with ice, and ladle the punch over the ice.

RASPBERRY ICE MOLD

Fill a small mold with water to 2 inches from the top. Add 4 to 6 ounces raspberries (the berries will float). Freeze overnight or wrap the frozen mold tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month. To release, turn the mold upside down and place the bowl under running water until the ice releases.

Reprinted from PUNCH BOWLS & PITCHER DRINKS: RECIPES FOR DELICIOUS BIG BATCH COCKTAILS by Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia. Copyright © by Clarkson Potter/Publishers. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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