There’s an old rhyme from Barbados that describes the ratio of ingredients in a bowl of punch: “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, and four of weak.” When Dustin Nguyen won the punch-making competition for Martina at this year’s Minneapolis regional of Cochon555, his creation followed those proportions. But it wasn’t that simple.
“It’s a nerdy cocktail, and it’s super fun,” he says. “But at its core, it’s a true punch.” He employed some next-level techniques: milk-washing a spirit and replacing its tannin with tea, making an oleo saccharum (look it up), and using wine fining agents to clarify his citrus.
Sadly, it’s not on the menu at Martina, but Nguyen says they’re working up a similar punch for their spring menu. Instead, why not see for yourself how much effort it takes to win a punch competition? This recipe takes the better part of a month to tackle, but it yields something minty and floral, crisp and translucent, unlike anything you’ve ever shaken up at home.
Nguyen says it tastes like the color pink. Honestly, I can’t describe it any better.
Murakami Tea Punch
250 grams makrut lime leaf
250 grams granulated sugar
12.5 grams lemongrass
500 milliliters neutral grain spirit
Combine all ingredients in a vessel with a tight lid and shake daily for a week. Sugar should be completely dissolved. If not, wait another day or two. Strain contents through a cheesecloth and bottle. Rack the liqueur off the sediment into a new bottle after three weeks.
Milk Washed Bourbon
40 grams Murakami Tea Blend*
750 milliliters Breckenridge Bourbon
250 milliliters homemade makrut liqueur
250 milliliters whole milk
3 organic lemons, cut into wheels
1 vanilla bean
Combine bourbon and liqueur and add the tea. Let steep for 20 minutes and strain. Add milk and vanilla bean to a glass container and slowly pour bourbon mixture into the milk. Add the sliced lemons and let rest overnight. Strain through a chinois until clarified.
*Murakami Tea Blend
40 grams hibiscus
40 grams agrimony
40 grams yerba mate
20 grams spearmint
10 grams poppy seed
5 grams turmeric
5 grams galangal
125 milliliters lime juice
375 milliliters grapefruit juice
500 milliliters pineapple juice
2 grams salt
2 milliliters Pectinex Ultra SP-L
4 milliliters Kieselsol (divided)
2 milliliters Chitosan
Mix citrus and salt. Add Pectinex and 2 milliliters Kieselsol and wait 15 minutes. Add Chitosan and wait 15 minutes. Add remaining Kieselsol and let settle overnight.
Bring it all together
Measure your bourbon mixture and add to it one-fifth of that volume of clarified citrus. Now measure that mixture and add to it two-thirds of that volume of cold carbonated water (Topo Chico recommended). Ladle the punch over a very large ice cube in a lowball.
Find more recipes for delicious cocktails in our Craft Cocktails archive.