You might have had a Punch in the Mouth last summer at Steuben’s. You probably liked it, too. The drink that cold-cocked customers last year kept selling over the winter, and since it was so popular, bar manager Sam Trojanovich is offering it again this summer. “It’s back,” Trojanovich says. “It’s one of our most popular drinks. The name is funny, so people love that about it.”
“I thought it kind of tasted like a punch,” Trojanovich says about the recipe and the name he chose. “It had a little tartness to it that gets you in the mouth — so Punch in the Mouth was born. I also thought it was just a funny name, and I feel like people order it because of the name.”
The idea for the drink started with a bottle of cranberry liqueur that Trojanovich challenged himself to use in a recipe. He paired it with gin, ginger liqueur, lime juice, sugar and mint, topping it with soda water.
Here’s what’s in the cocktail, which is served over crushed ice:
.75 ounce Leopold Brothers New England Cranberry Liqueur
.5 ounce Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur
1.5 ounce Leopold Brothers American Small Batch Gin
.75 ounce fresh lime juice
.75 ounce simple syrup
5 to 6 mint leaves
Splash of soda
The slightly tart cranberry liqueur from Leopold Brothers adds the punch Trojanovich was looking for. “We love using Leopold Brothers products here,” he says. “They do everything the way it should be done.”
The hand-bottled liqueur contains juices of two different types of New England cranberries that are blended with an eau de vie (also made by Leopold Brothers) and a small amount of sugar. "It’s got a great flavor," Trojanovich adds. "Their liqueurs are not too sweet, which is nice.”
Trojanovich likes Leopold Brothers’ gin too. The Denver distillery's version of the classic British spirit is unique in that each of the botanicals — coriander, pummelo, orris root, Valencia oranges and juniper, to name just a few — are distilled separately. Those distillations are later blended to make the gin. “It wasn’t so juniper-heavy,” Trojanovich says about why he chose it. “It’s a new American-style gin, so we like that about it.”
Even though Steuben’s makes a ginger syrup in-house, Trojanovich thought it was a bit too strong for the recipe, and instead reached for Domaine de Canton, a ginger liqueur made in France. “I thought the ginger and the cranberry went together really well,” he says. “The Domaine de Canton was just subtle enough in the drink that it wasn’t overpowering.” The liqueur is made by combining crystallized Chinese baby ginger with cognac, orange-blossom honey and vanilla.
“It’s definitely one of those patio crushers,” Trojanovich says of Punch in the Mouth ($10). “It’s good for someone who wants to experiment with a cocktail: It’s approachable; it’s good for all types of people. It was summertime when I came up with it, and I was trying to come up with something cool and well-balanced. It’s got a little bit of soda water in there, too, to give it some bubbles.”