‘Twas The Punch Before Christmas

‘Twas The Punch Before Christmas post image

‘Twas the Punch before Christmas
And all through the bar
Each contestant was stirring
Hoping their punch would star…

The first ever Punch Before Christmas competition at Malo (something both bar manager Rhachel Shaw and I are hoping to make a recurring event), sponsored by Kraken Black Spiced Rum, was held on December 10th with some great punches, tasty hot buttered rum, and some fantastic people.

photo courtesy Chelsea Riggins

photo courtesy Chelsea Riggins

More than 10 punch recipes were submitted, with 5 moving on to the final, live competition.  Let me tell you, picking the 5 best punches was not an easy task.  Luckily for the people who made their way to Sunset Boulevard that night, Rhachel and I were up to the task.

At the end of the night our judges, Marleigh Miller from Sloshed!, Joe Keeper from Barkeeper, Joe Brooke from Copa d’Oro and recent winner of America’s Top Bartender, had the even more ominous task of picking who was going to be awarded the $500 Judges’ Favorite prize, while the rest of the attendees all participated in deciding who would win the $150 People’s Choice award.

Ponche RelajanteJudges’ Favorite
by Chuck Taggart
32 oz Gran Centenario Rosangel tequila
16 oz Water
8 oz Del Maguey Mezcal Minero
8 oz fino sherry
4 oz lemon juice
4 oz lime juice
1 cup Demerara sugar (muddled with the lemon and lime peels)
6 oz Guaycura Liqueur de Damiana
2 oz Licor Cuarenta y Tres
48 oz Té de Siete Azahares (Mexican “Seven Blossoms” tea)
2-1/2 (30 dashes) teaspoons Fee’s Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
2-1/2 (30 dashes) teaspoons Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Lemon, lime and orange slices, and pomegranate seeds for garnish in the bowl. Garnish individual servings with a lime slice and some pomegranate seeds.

Port of Portland PunchPeople’s Choice
by Zach Patterson from STK

8 parts Kraken Black Spiced Rum,
3 parts Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
3 parts Benedictine
8 parts Green Tea
2 parts Lemon Juice
2 parts Gomme Syrup
Vanilla/Citrus spice (hand shaved lemon rind, and shaving of inside of tahitian vanilla bean combined)

Garnish with large expressed orange peel.


photo courtesy Chelsea Riggins

Chuck, a very good friend of this blog despite his better judgment, seemed stunned by the win.  As an added bonus for an even bigger surprise, Chuck found out that his punch was going to be featured on the menu at Malo for the rest of December!

I do not envy the judges or the crowd for their voting.  Rhachel and I had a hard enough time getting down to 5 punches in the first place.  The competition was fierce, with competitors from LA, Orange County, and even Portland, Oregon.

Tonjok Punch
by Jason Schiffer from 320 Main

8 oz. Batavia Arrack
3 oz. Bols Genever
1 oz. Root
2 oz. Lemon Juice
2.5 oz. Depaz Cane Syrup
2.5 oz. Simple Syrup
8 dashes Peychauds Bitters
20 oz. Chandon Brut
Peel crusts from 2 whole oranges, twist and add to Punch

Punch You In The Eye
by Chris Bostick from The Varnish

9 oz  Sencha green tea infused El Tesoro Silver Tequila
3 oz Scarlet Ibis Rum
3 oz Aperol
3 oz Benedictine
3 oz fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
4 0z fresh lemon juice
4 oz cucumber demerara simple syrup
12 oz bottle of Jamaican Ting soda
3 heaping barspoons of fine sugar
1 thin peel from ruby red grapefruit
Thin peels from 2 lemons

Start by making the oleo saccrum by muddling citrus peels with sugar.  Next, add all other ingredients excluding soda and whisk together to blend well.  Last, remove all citrus peel and dump into punch bowl over a large chunk of ice followed by Ting.  Serve with very tiny amount of lemon zest grated on top to order.  Enjoy!

Chris is another friend of the blog – heck, let’s be honest.  Pretty much everyone that entered was a friend of RumDood.com.  I know, it’s hard to believe that I have friends…or maybe I don’t and it’s really just my website that does.  Somehow that makes more sense.

Regardless, I was excited to hear that Chris was going to compete in another punch competition, and then crestfallen when I heard that he was going to have to work and miss the event.  Luckily my favorite person from my favorite liquor mecca volunteered to serve a punch that wasn’t his own – despite having entered the contest and not being chosen as one of the top 5.

Forrest Cokely made Chris’ punch with great aplomb, served it with great enthusiasm and personality, and as is often the case, saved my bacon.  This time though, I didn’t end up with a case of liquor.

Blackheart Punch
by Blair Reynolds from Trader Tiki, Acadia Bistro in Portland, and probably some other places.

1 part Fresh Lime Juice
1 part Fresh Lemon Juice
2 parts Cinnamon Syrup
1 part Black Strap Rum
2 parts Amber Rum (Cruzan preferred)
4 parts Iced Black Tea

Serve in a punch bowl with a large block of ice.  Float mint leaves, cinnamon sticks and frozen lime wheels.  Ladle over rocks with a spring of mint and a dash of Aromatic bitters.

photo courtesy Chelsea Riggins

photo courtesy Chelsea Riggins

Blair was a very welcome surprise in the group of contestants.  He was “nearby” – as in “within 200 miles” as he completed his BarSmarts Advanced course in Las Vegas – and swung down into LA to participate in the punch competition.

In the end, it was a lot of fun and I have so many people to thank, from the contestants who toiled over some incredible punches, to our sponsor, Kraken Black Spiced Rum, to Rhachel and the staff at Malo, to our judges who not only took the time to help us out, but contributed punch bowls and fliers and encouragement throughout the process.

If you didn’t make it this year, try a making a few of these punches for the time-being, and then make sure you can make it next year, when we’ll see if we can do this even bigger and better.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Thirsty In LA

    December 15, 2009, 11:38

    Cheers to a great event, Matt! Crossing fingers for this to be an annual tradition.

  • Chuck

    December 15, 2009, 13:43

    Thanks for everything, Matt! What a blast that was.

    One thing … I had to tweak the recipe on the fly at the venue for balance. Can you edit the recipe above to add 16 ounces of water? It still tastes good as is, but it’s a bit … strong. 🙂

  • Chuck

    December 15, 2009, 13:46

    Oh, and the name was changed too, to Ponche Relajante (“Relaxing Punch”). Yeah, I know, I’m a pain.

  • Matt Robold

    December 15, 2009, 13:53

    OK Chuck, it’s all corrected. However I’m afraid I can’t let you ever enter a contest ever again now that you’ve made me do actual work. 😉

  • mattatouille

    December 20, 2009, 10:33

    chuck’s recipe has got to be the most complicated punch recipe ever, with all those crazy ingredients. I wish I were there to try them! next time

  • Lall

    December 21, 2009, 10:31

    Hey Matt,

    Where’s the best place to pick up the syrups?

    Would any grocery store have them and is there a specific kind of I should look for?



  • Matt Robold

    December 22, 2009, 09:21

    @ Lall: Some of these syrups can be found in most grocers or specialty grocer (e.g. the Depaz Cane Syrup). Others are easier to hunt down online (gomme syrup can be tricky to find). Then there are syrups like Chris Bostick’s cucumber demerara syrup, which you’d pretty much have to make on your own.

    Two online sources of syrups I can heartily recommend are Trader Tiki and Small Hand Foods

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