You, there! Boy! What day is this? Why, if my calculations are correct, it’s December 22, which means it’s two days before Christmas Eve, which means we’re a mere 48 hours from a built-in occasion to drink an imperial gallon of punch. Yes, friends, it’s time for the penultimate dispatch from our month-long Punch Party.
Last week, we covered milk punch, a beverage that is both punchy and not punchy at all. Now, we’re just a few days away from holiday revelry. Even if your idea of holiday revelry is staying in and streaming Krampus (2015), punch makes every occasion feel special. This week, we’re getting practical and revisiting your great-aunt’s favorite punch-chilling method: the humble ice ring.
When I think of an ice ring—a literal ring of ice placed inside a punch bowl, typically flavored with juice or fruit—I think of my great-grandfather’s 99th birthday party. Something about it seems so old-fashioned, but it really is the perfect way to keep your punch cool while also adding a bit of pleasant slushiness. When the ring melts, it’ll inject your punch with even more flavor—unlike ice, which will water the whole thing down. Think of an ice ring as a tastier, more interesting alternative to, say, a set of whiskey stones.
In my extensive punch research (read: flipping through old church cookbooks), I found numerous recipes that called for ice rings. The problem: all of the recipes suggested making an ice ring in a “circular mold.” It took me way longer than it should have to realize that a bundt pan qualifies as a “circular mold.” If you’ve got a bundt pan, you can make an ice ring. (If you don’t have a bundt pan and refuse to purchase one for moral/ethical/stubbornness reasons, you could probably achieve a similar effect with flavored ice cubes using the below guidance. It just won’t be quite as efficient for a bulk beverage.)
Got your bundt? Ready to make an ice ring? Here’s all you gotta do:
1. Gather your materials, including your sweet, sweet bundt pan, the fruit juice of your choice and any garnish you can reasonably imagine floating in your punch bowl. That includes cranberries, sliced citrus, or mint for an herbaceous twist.
2. Dump the juice and garnish into your bundt pan. Be sure that the ice ring is small enough to fit cozily into your punch bowl. This may require some awkward measuring.
3. Freeze the pan until the ring is, well, ice.
4. When you’re ready to serve your punch, run the frozen ice ring under hot water for a few seconds until it cracks a bit. This will unmold it and allow you to float the ring in the punch.
5. Plop the ice ring in the bottom of your punch bowl, pour your punch over the ice ring, and enjoy.