Recycle the party

If life gives you leftover booze, make punch

Rum punch makes the party.

Rum punch makes the party.

Photo by Jodie Wilson (via Flickr)

With the sunshine slowly returning, you’re probably starting to look at the calendar to plan your spring/summer shindigs. But before you send out invites with BYOB, open up your liquor cabinet still overflowing with the leftovers from your holiday partying. It probably resembles the clearance rack of a booze aisle. Never fear, with a bit of creativity, there are many ways you can clean things out and make room for the next bottle, box or six-pack.

You can’t blame your guests. It’s hard to resist buying the 1.75 liter of Smirnoff when it’s only $2 more than the 750ml version. Problem is, you’re always left wondering what to do with 1.75 liters of cheap booze. Try turning boring vodka into myriad new flavors by infusing it with other ingredients—fruit, vegetables, herbs or spices. For fruits and vegetables, expose the flesh by peeling and removing any skins that may add a sour taste, such as orange rinds. Throw in herbs and spices whole. Stronger flavors, such as citrus, cinnamon or rosemary, need to sit only for a few days. Subtler flavors, such as pear, peach or hibiscus, will take at least one or two weeks. Taste along the way, and when you’re happy with the result, strain off the liquid and enjoy.

How about a chili vodka? Remove the seeds from one Thai chili and add to 375ml of vodka. Let sit for three days, taste, strain and then mix up a sweet and spicy chili-infused martini by combining 1 oz. chili vodka and 1 oz. peach juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass and garnish with a peach slice or by sugaring the rim.

The most effective way to clean out the cabinet, and the best option if you have a party coming up, is to make a big bowl of punch. Popular in colonial times, punch is a perfect way to get rid of the last dregs of a rum collection. Mix and match flavored rums, light and dark rums, fruit and fruit juices to make a big self-serve bowl. Note: If you wouldn’t mix it in a fruit salad—say, lemon and peaches—don’t mix it in the punch.

For the adventurous, take a shot at Warp Core Breach (a drink from Quark’s Bar inside Vegas’ now-closed Star Trek Experience, inspired by a foggy drink from an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9), which is sure to lower your shields right before you crash into the planet.

Warp Core Breach

9 oz. light rum

7 oz. lemon rum

3 oz. dark rum

3 oz. spiced rum

3 oz. Chambord black raspberry liqueur

2 oz. Bacardi 151

60 oz. Açaí and passion fruit sports drinks

Mix all ingredients in a large punch bowl. Add additional sports drink to taste. Serve in cups full of ice. For the full experience, carefully add a chunk of dry ice to the punch bowl. (Warning: Don’t eat the dry ice.) Makes 10 servings.

For appetizers, if you have a half-full bottle of green olives buried in the fridge, transform the popular martini garnish into something special by making Vermouth-soaked olives. Place the olives in a canning jar, cover in vermouth, and let sit for a few weeks. Infuse extra flavor by adding chilis or rosemary to the mix before tucking them away to soak. They’re good enough to eat by themselves, but you could also chop them up with some garlic, capers, anchovies and lemon to make a martini-inspired tapenade.