Saturday, July 6, 2013

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini Punch

So who's in the mood for a beach party?

Seeing as yesterday was National Bikini Day, the timing is just about perfect for Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini Punch! (Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot One-Piece Punch, if you're doing a virgin punch)

This has been one of those on-my-radar recipes, but it never took shape beyond a yellow punch base with melon ball garnishes until recently when I seized an opportunity to have a happy hour cohort of willing victims tasters at the office. Because buying melons for punch-for-one doesn't quite work. From all accounts it turned out nicely.

The song never did say what color the polka dots were, right?
Single serving
1/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz lime juice
1/4 oz lemon-lime oleo saccharum syrup
1/4 oz passionfruit syrup
1/2 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz (homemade) apricot brandy or plain brandy
1 oz dry rum (white or gold)
2 1/2 oz carbonated tropical green tea
3 drops orange bitters (Bittercube)
2 dashes orange blossom water
bite-size frozen melon balls as garnish

Shake all liquids (except tea) on ice, then strain into your serving cup. Top with carbonated tea and frozen melon balls as garnish.

Full-size punch version (serves 24)
6 oz lemon juice
6 oz lime juice
3 oz lemon-lime oleo saccharum syrup (2:1)
5 oz passionfruit syrup
12 oz pineapple juice
12 oz apricot brandy or brandy
24 oz dry rum
8 cups carbonated tropical green tea
2 dropperfuls orange bitters
1 1/4 oz orange blossom water
frozen melon balls from roughly 2 melon halves (watermelon, honeydew, canteloupe, etc..)

Combine all but the carbonated tropical green tea and ice in your punch bowl, giving it a good stir, then add the tea, then the ice.

In addition to single frozen melon balls as chilling agents, try making an ice block or ice ring filled with melon balls.

  • There are a few workable varieties of tropical green tea out there that I know of (Revolution, Republic of Tea, Mighty Leaf). Look for green tea with pineapple flavor plus ginger and/or other tropical fruit flavors. Brew 1 bag per 2 cups near-boiling water until water is cool, then carbonate per your device's instructions (I tend to under-carbonate with my SodaStream, if only because tea tends to foam up quickly).
  • Lemon-lime oleo saccharum syrup: in a bowl or ziploc bag, to 3/4 cup sugar (demerara or turbinado if you have it) add the pithless zests (in strips) of 2 lemons and 1 lime. Muddle gently, then seal, letting rest at room temperature overnight. Agitate your container as you like to help the sugar dissolve. When ready to use, add 3 to 6 oz of water depending on desired sweetness, then add to the punch sans zests.
  • Rum's simply the natural choice for a punch like this, but play around with the spirits as you like! Brandy's always wonderful for depth, and a nice dry gin plays up all the flavors. I know for a fact that 1792 bourbon is a great match, as is port wine (though then it wouldn't be a yellow polka dot bikini). If using rum, find one with great big vanilla notes, as I think that'll play up the spirit of the cocktail best. I used Mount Gay Eclipse (gold) when serving.
  • Though intending to have the melon balls solely function as a garnish, the melon flavors ended up infusing pleasingly into the punch, adding a welcome dimension aside from the citrus flavors. They also played well with the orange blossom water; it'd be worth experimenting more with this flavor pair.
  • The orange blossom water itself was a last minute add, but ended up being the right finesse to elevate the punch beyond mundane.
  • If going beyond the in-office audience and limited budget for the punch, I'd probably up the alcohol grade slightly (the amount is just right because it still packs a wallop), and get fresh non-gold pineapple to juice. The pineapple in this case was canned Dole's juice. Something more mellow, that would function as a more subtle extender, would take this recipe through the stratosphere.