If you’ve ever been to a college party, chances are that someone has shoved a cup in your hand and said, “This jungle juice is so good, trust me.”
More often than not, this drunk party person is wrong, and the jungle juice is very bad. I have yet to find an enjoyable jungle juice — cue the bad memories of drinking a brown-ish punch ladled out of plastic tubs. But thankfully, if you’re smart about it, a big-batch of alcoholic punch doesn’t have to be like jungle juice at all.
If you’re going off-recipe, there are a few key things to avoid.
First, stay away from too much Everclear; the flavor is like drinking rubbing alcohol straight from the bottle. It’s great for making 'cellos, but not for drinking in large quantities.
Second, there is such a thing as too much fruit. Unsurprisingly, a mix of Blue Hawaiian Punch, banana puree, cherry, orange, grapefruit, and lime juices doesn’t taste great. But fresh fruit is nothing to shy away from; there’s no drink a few fresh berries can’t class up, though I advise against vegetables. This isn't a detox.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of adding bitters and tinctures. The strong, extract-like substances add flavor without watering down a drink. Flavored syrups are good, too.
The best part of making a big, alcoholic punch? It’s hard to mess up. If it’s too sweet, mix in a little more citrus. Too alcoholic? Serve it over ice.
If you’re not ready to throw punch parties quite yet, check out one of these local bars serving up “four or more” cocktails:
Bridges & Bourbon
There are eight different rums in Bridges & Bourbon’s Polynesian Brew. The tropical drink blends rum with banana, cinnamon, brown sugar, lime, and hazelnut liqueur, and is served with a banana custard.
Substitute happy hour for “punch bowl hour” at Tina’s. The Bloomfield bar has two different shareable drinks: the super punch (an Italian amaro that tastes like spicy bubblegum), made with IC Light; and Oaxaca old fashioned, featuring mezcal and agave.
Three shareable cocktails make Hidden Harbor’s list, the most intense named Atlantis. Drinkers are advised to “embark on the adventure with only the bravest companions;” the drink is made up of over 20 exotic ingredients.