Andrea and I decided to give the contest a go despite knowing that we were going up against "punch creations created by the best Boston bartenders". We each brainstormed on our own for a bit and then sorted out a recipe. I came up with the idea along the lines of a Pisco Punch with pisco, pineapple, and yellow Chartreuse as ingredients, while Andrea's idea incorporated tamarind, rum, and green Chartreuse. She was against the idea of the pisco, so I swapped it to another grape product and made the base spirit an equal part mix of amber rum and Cognac akin to the Fish House Punch. As the recipe was shaping up, the yellow Chartreuse seemed too subtle and I agreed that green Chartreuse was the way to go. To complement the tamarind, I included my pineapple juice idea as well as some lime juice for crispness. And for a little extra complexity, Oolong tea was added to the mix. Since the tamarind made me think of Thai food, I came up with the name of Pattaya Punch after the city in Thailand which is home base for my old Muay Thai academy, Sityodtong, where a lot of punches were had of other varieties.
Pattaya PunchWe opted for reconstituting dried tamarind blocks (available at Indian markets and elsewhere) instead of juice since most of the more common tamarind juices like Goya are only a small percentage tamarind and a large percentage sweetener (most likely could be used in this recipe though with an increase of juice and a decrease of simple syrup). We submitted our recipe and hoped for the best. And we waited, and by Sunday night, we assumed that we had lost. In fact, we did not hear anything until the morning of the event. At that point, we learned that not only did we make the top six recipes that were tested, but we made the cut for the event!
1 bottle (750 mL) Pol Rogers Brut Reserve
8 oz Green Chartreuse
12 oz Cognac
12 oz Amber Rum
8 oz Tamarind "Syrup" (*)
6 oz Pineapple Juice
4 oz Lime Juice
8 oz Oolong Tea
8 oz Simple Syrup
(*) Take a 4 inch x 2 inch x 1/2 inch block of dried tamarind and add 12 oz boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes using a spoon to break up tamarind while steeping. Strain to yield approx. 8 oz tamarind "syrup".
Mix ingredients in a bowl with a large ice block to cool. Add Champagne before serving. Serve cold in 4 oz punch cups. No garnish.
The punches last night were in bowls labeled 1, 2, and 3. We later learned that Drink bartender Josie Packard made the first recipe. It featured Old Overholt Rye, a Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, Champagne, and an orange twist as some of the ingredients. It had a delightful smokey note from the Mezcal and Andrea favored this (not-ours) one. The one I favored was the second one by Corey Bunnewith, ex-Drink soon Jamie Bissonnette's new restaurant Coppa. Corey's punch had an amazing earthy note to it; people associated that flavor to everything from licorice to peanut butter. The secret to that note turned out to be roasted pumpkin seeds. The other ingredients that I recall were rye and a sarsaparilla-root infusion. Ours was bowl number 3 but we assumed it was actually bowl number 2 before tasting it since it was more brown (Corey got confused as well in the opposite way). The punch in Drink's hands turned out more dry and tart than ours either due to scale up in citrus not being linear or due to the lime we used in our micro-punch experiments (we experimented with 1/24th sized versions) being different from theirs. I do not recall which rum they used (Andrea thinks it was an aged Rhum Barbancourt) but the Cognac was Pierre Ferrand Ambre. Moreover, they were apparently more aggressive in extracting fluid by squeezing out the reconstituted tamarind.