Pride Punch with Hodges Bend
Photos by Sam Ziegler
Pride is a time to connect and reconnect with friends and the community. While there are plenty of great events going on around town, a chill backyard hang can be a welcome break from the scene. (Or, if you’re an introvert like me, a backyard hang is about as close to the scene as you want to be.)
But even at a relaxed gathering, where the expectation is for bottles in an ice-filled cooler, there’s room for something a little extra—something that’s a communal experience, a conversation starter, and an easy way to quench the thirst of a crowd of any size (well, one type of thirst, at least).
That’s why you should make punch.
Punch is widely credited as the original type of cocktail, even though it’s unknown where and when the first one was made. Multiple sources say sailors for the British East India Company were the first to reference “punch” in English in 1632, pre-dating the first single-serve “old fashioned” style cocktail by more than 200 years. America’s founding fathers were known to have celebrated with it, though England’s Queen Victoria took a dimmer view of the potent potable, causing it to fall out of favor.
Made for a modern queen
To develop a modern recipe versatile enough to be paired with different spirits, or to be served spirit-free, I turned to bartender Matty Craddock of Hodges Bend, the coffee, wine, and cocktail bar that opened on the edge of Minneapolis’ Prospect Park neighborhood in 2018.
“We love tiki at Hodges Bend, so I wanted to think about a drink that would be super refreshing but also summery and bright,” he told me. “And, a lot of punch bowls were historically made with tea.”
The resulting recipe is “Pride Punch #19,” which combines hibiscus-berry tea with lemon, cranberry, and pineapple juice (a classic tiki ingredient), simple syrup, and tonic water. Each batch makes 6 to 8 servings, and can easily be doubled or tripled to serve more.
The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity and flexibility. The most labor-intensive parts of the recipe—brewing the tea and making the simple syrup—still only take about 10 minutes, and can be completed a day before your party. Day-of, the recipe is completed by combining all of the ingredients in a punch bowl or beverage dispenser with a large chunk of ice. With your guests serving themselves you can have more time to enjoy your own party.
You probably noticed that this recipe doesn’t include alcohol, and that’s on purpose. Sober guests at your party will find Pride Punch #19 delicious as-is; I sampled it and found there’s a real brightness to the recipe that’s perfect for summer, without being overly sweet. Substituting sparkling N/A cider like Martinelli for the sparkling water would also be a great riff, though avoid sparkling grape juice; it’s too sweet.
Other guests might want to add a shot or two of spirit to their punch, and I test-drove several options that worked well. Adding vodka really highlighted the berry notes in the tea; the botanicals in a London Dry–style gin brought out the floral hibiscus notes; and the added acidity of a dry sparkling wine pulled out the cranberry flavor, almost like an elevated mimosa.
Historically, punches were made with rum and, while I didn’t test it, I could see a white or light rum working well in this punch, and possibly even blanco tequila. The options really are wide open, and this drink can be built to suit our diverse tastes.
As a transplant to Minnesota from New York, I always ask new Minnesotans about their experience moving here. In the 15 months since arriving, Matty told me he’s grown to feel at home in the Twin Cities, even in light of an evening work schedule.
“I’ve had such a good experience! My [friend-making] progression was a little slow but very genuine and honest,” he told me. Matty credits, in part, Flip Phone (the LGBTQ+ events organization) and its founder Chad Kampe for providing the opportunity to meet people.
“I love dancing; literally, last winter, dancing is what got me through. I would find a dance floor, hopefully ’80s music, and I would just get lost.”
Who can’t relate to that? Happy Pride!
Pride Punch #19 by Matty Craddock, Hodges Bend
16 ounces berry-hibiscus tea
7 ounces cranberry juice
4 ounces tonic water
4 ounces fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 ounces pineapple juice
3 ounces honey simple syrup (1:1)
11 ounces sparkling water or n/a sparkling cider*
Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl over a large chunk of ice, stir a couple times, and enjoy!
*To spike the punch, omit sparkling water and sub with 11 ounces London dry gin, vodka, white rum, or blanco tequila.