Yum Yum Punch

I talked about this last year, but it never ceases to amaze me how spring creeps up on Edinburgh. The flowers come in phases: first the snowdrops, then the crocuses, the daffodils, the tulips, and eventually the cherry trees all turn into fluffy pink candy floss cones—my favourite part. We’re not to cherry tree stage yet, but the days are getting so much longer, the sunlight is stronger than it ever is in the dead of winter, and the winds are calming down just enough to let you know that spring is really in the air.

So, of course, when we decided to host a wee dinner party for some friends, I had one thing on my mind: warm weather. It might not be summer here in Edinburgh yet, but if you live anywhere else in the world, you’re probably doing a fair amount of ‘sitting on porches sipping things’ right about now, and this punch would be a worthy addition to any porch party, dinner party, festival pre-game (Atlantans, looking at you!), or beach day.

This drink is basically a riff on a pina colada that allows you to make it without a blender, and makes the whole thing a little lighter… and less likely to give you a brainfreeze. Plus, the addition of ginger beer makes it a little less summery and perfect for the kind of interim spring weather we're having these days. Seriously, it’s just sunshine in a cup. We spiked ours with dark rum, but this would be equally good with light rum or even vodka—but do yourself a favour and spike your glass, not the pitcher, otherwise it’s harder to mix evenly.

Another recommendation I learned the hard way is that coconut cream has to be really mixed to incorporate well into the punch (when making a pina colada, the blender does this for you). I’ve amended the recipe a bit below to help make sure the punch stays uniform consistency, and to account for adding booze to it… if you choose. Another thing we ran into was the simple fact that we don’t own a punch bowl. We’ve gotten around this in the past by using a soup tureen (I know), but it makes a giant mess when people inevitably drip everywhere and I haven’t got a pretty ladle anyway, so we made this in a very tall pitcher and it was just fine. Plus, honestly, this isn’t the most beautifully coloured drink anyway, so you’re not missing out by having it a little more hidden.

Depending on how coconut-y you’d like this to be, you can add coconut water to cut it if needed, or, better, freeze yourself some coconut water in ice cube trays, then plop those coconut cubes into the punch to keep it from getting watery as it chills.

Since my freezer isn’t big enough to freeze an ‘ice ring,’ and, to be honest, I’m not really sure what one is, I used my favourite party-hosting trick and froze ice ‘pucks’ in a muffin tin with a wheel of lime in each—then just pop those into the punch and they look much prettier (and melt more slowly!) than plain old freezer ice.

To be clear, this punch is just as tasty without being spiked, but I’ve gone ahead and included directions for spiking it because when the weather is nice, there’s not a lot that’s nicer than a rum drink… even if your version of ‘nice’ weather is the Scottish definition of ‘I didn’t blow away yet.’

Best of all, as with all good drink recipes (boozy or not), this one is all about your own preferences, so add more pineapple if you want it, or leave out the ginger beer—this one’s all about you, baby!

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. This is really tasty, but it separates if it’s not blended like crazy, so I’m knocking off a spoon for the amount of shaking/whisking I had to do to get it to stay together.

one year ago: Double-Crusted, lightweight Cheesecake

The recipe:

Yum Yum Punch

the directions:

Pour coconut milk and a bit of pineapple juice into a cocktail shaker (or blender) and shake or blend very well.
(Shake this a lot more than you think will be necessary, as this is what helps the coconut cream emulsify into the rest of the punch).
Pour into a pitcher and add the lemonade and the rest of the pineapple juice.
Whisk again, very well, until of uniform consistency.
At this point, if you want to, you can freeze some of the mixture in a muffin tin or ice tray to chill the drink later.
Chill punch very well and whisk again immediately before serving.
Just before serving, add ginger ale to punch to taste, stir very gently to incorporate, and serve in punch cups.
Spike each serving with a shot of rum or vodka as desired, but be careful! The coconut cream covers a lot of boozy flavour so don't make it too strong!

the ingredients:

9 oz coconut cream (like Coco Lopez, if you're Stateside-- NOT coconut water or coconut milk)
12 oz lemonade (NOT fizzy lemonade, if you're in the UK)
40 oz pineapple juice
32 oz ginger ale
Dark rum (or light rum or vodka) to taste
Optional: coconut water to taste; lime wheels to garnish; ice frozen in a muffin tin to chill
Note: the above quantities are totally just suggestions. I included those quantities because that is 1 UK-sized can of coconut cream, 1 Tesco-sized bottle of the first lemonade I found, etc. Basically, get yourself a container of each of the above and go to town.