Bring your friends to a bar and get punched on September 20, National Punch Day. Punch may sound like the bright red drink you had too much of as a kid, but the party-sized cocktail-in-a-bowl classically comes full of booze, sugar, tea, lemon and spices. It literately packs a punch to your sobriety, and tastes so smooth and refreshing you can't help but dip your cup into the bowl for another swig. Aside from time-honored recipes, nowadays punch gets made with all sorts of ingredients, often with several types of liquor, as well as sparkling wine. "The beauty of punch is that it is probably one of the most versatile drinks to enjoy, and it's perfect in all seasons and for all occasions," says McLain Hedges of RiNo Yacht Club. Go try some for yourself at one of these ten bars and restaurants — and see why it's a drink that's been loved for centuries.
Ace Eat Serve
501 East 17th Avenue
Uptown folks seeking a giant bowl of booze should head to Ace Eat Serve for the Jop Jop, a house-carbonated punch made with Weller whiskey, pineapple-infused Don Q Rum, lemon juice, sugar and oolong tea. It comes in a bottle and serves between three and six guests, and it goes great with chef Thach Tran's spice market beef ramen and the pork belly bao buns. We can't promise that downing a glass of this potent punch will make your ping pong skills better, but sign up for a table and just pretend it does.
218 South Broadway
You can't have a tiki bar without at least one punch on the cocktail menu. At this South Broadway faux-tropical paradise there are three to choose from. If your group is in a warm, fruity mood, perhaps the Piranha Punch is the way to go. It's packed with white whiskey, Pasubio amaro, house-made strawberry syrup, cinnamon and lemon juice. Those seeking a pick-me-up may want to go with the Krakotoa, made with Denver's own Bear Creek spiced rum, dark rum, coffee liqueur, and pineapple, lime and grapefruit juices. Finally, the Black Pearl rolls in with a deep, dark and elusive mixture of Wray & Nephew overproof Jamaican rum, Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum, amaro, cassis, absinthe, house-made falernum (a sweet syrup usually crafted in the Caribbean), pineapple juice and lime. All punches serve two to four people and should be paired with a pile of smoked-guava baby back ribs as you gaze at the hypnotic pufferfish light fixtures.
909 Walnut Street, Boulder
Take a seat at this comfortable, Colorado-driven restaurant in Boulder and share a porron (a Spanish glass pitcher commonly used to pour wine) of booze with your closest friends. Yes, we're talking about the Round Robin, a four-person cocktail consisting of two Leopold Bros. offerings — Leopold's Summer Gin and Rocky Mountain Peach Liqueur — as well as sparkling wine, herbs and a tart dose of citrus juices. "We love the idea of sharing dishes and all the interaction that goes into it," says bar manager Jonathan Watsky. "We wanted to create something that everyone could share the same way as a dish off our menu." In fact, he says, the drink gets its name because of the idea of partaking together. Watsky even shares the credit for the drink with Arcana bartender Jake Novotny, who has an herb garden in north Boulder. "This was a perfect outlet for showcasing his herbs, and gave us the opportunity to appreciate the hard work he puts into his hobby," says Watsky.
3126 Larimer Street
Don't expect every bowl of punch at RiNo's Bar Fausto to always be the same; the menu changes periodically. Right now the bar serves punch bowl Number Four, a mess of rum, brandy, black tea simple syrup, lemon juice and Clear Creek Distillery's Douglas Fir eau de vie. There's also another offering that has been dubbed Kenny Chesney's Island Cooler and comprises rum, peach schnapps, blue curacao and house-made lemonade. Enjoy either with your companions seated along the bar or squeezed into one of the modern booths along the wall.
2927 Larimer Street
"At Finn's Manor we have a very relaxed, Caribbean, New Orleanian vibe, and one of the things I like to bring to the table for people coming in is some exotic, intriguing flavor profiles at an affordable price point," says Robert Sickler, co-owner and beverage director of Finn's Manor. "Flavors that they won't jump on in a cocktail per se, but in a glass of punch will try." That said, every day you can expect a new concoction from punches brimming with rich tamarind to a mixture full of guava and passion fruit to a cup highlighting the simple essence of tangerine, among others. The punches always come up different, but the price point remains $8 a cup at all hours, and you can also order a whole bowl if you're so inclined.
3622 Tejon Street
When you combine Plantation Three Star Rum, Broker’s Gin, spiced pear Iiqueur, cherry brandy, orange juice, lemon and soda you get the smooth, fruity Gunpowder Punch, which packs a real wallop. Instead of a classic cut-crystal bowl, the drink is served in a large jar with a pour spout, which makes serving yourself a breeze. The bar also whips up the High Plains Punch with Mythology Rye Vodka, Aperol, Maurin Quina, cassis, lemon and prosecco. Order either for two or four people, and sip as you nibble on an empanada, chat about the neighborhood, admire the international touches found all over the airy bar, or break out a deck of cards. Soon, says the owners of Mythology Distillery, the Gunpowder Punch will be made with the new venue's own rum and gin, which will make it a true Denver tipple.
Poka Lola Social Club
1850 Wazee Street
"I think any place claiming to be a social club has almost an obligation to serve social drinks," says bar manager Devin Chapnick. "Punch is one of the first cocktails to be created and by design brings people together, and I value experiences that focus our attention on one another." For those heading to the Dairy Block to imbibe, this sort of drinking can be done three ways. First, there's the smaller High Plains Scorpion, a mixture of Pyrat XO rum, apple brandy, gin, orgeat, cinnamon and citrus, which serves two to three people. Next is the seven-to-ten person bowl called the End of Paradise, made with VS Cognac, gin, ginger, lavender and sparkling wine. If you're group is very large, say fifteen to twenty people, the Honey Pot, made with Absolut Elyx vodka, champagne, yellow chartreuse and local honey, will suit the party just fine. Sip at the dazzling retro bar or back patio, check out the art and enjoy the people-watching in the lobby of the Maven Hotel.
Punch Bowl Social
3120 Uinta Street
At both locations of this fun and hopping eatery, guests can order glasses of jewel-toned punch to help push the party further. First up is The Watermelon Polo Bowl with Sauza reposado tequila, Teakoe watermelon spearmint tea, McClary Bros. watermelon shrub, strawberry syrup and lemon juice.Then, it's a Mer-Man's World with Old Forester bourbon, Teakoe pineapple papaya tea, cardamom syrup, one of Flor de Caña's aged rums and lime juice. Follow that with the Connoisseur's Cup, with Breckenridge Gin, Teakoe Kodiak Mountain mint tea, lavender syrup, Dolin Blanc vermouth and lemon, or the Where There's a Will, There's a Rosé, which has 3 Olives Rosé Vodka, Teakoe 39th Parallel pear and High Tide hibiscus teas, simple syrup, orange liqueur and lemon juice. Can't decide? Try them all by the glass or visit one of the Punch Bowl Socials for $10 punch flights on September 20. Once you've quenched your thirst with a cup of punch, have fun with giant Jenga, bowling, board games, vintage video games and more.
7355 Ralston Road, Arvada
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523 East 17th Avenue
For a tiki staple, drop in at either the Uptown or Arvada locations of Steuben's for the Scorpion Bowl, a fun punch blended with Gosling's Black Seal Rum, Sailor Jerry's spiced rum, Leopold's Peach Liqueur from Leopold Bros., orgeat, and lime, pineapple and cranberry juices. The fruity concoction might not sound like the best pairing for comfort food, but you will want to line your belly with tasty macaroni and cheese, Nashville hot chicken and green chile before indulging in this boozy number. As a bonus, the punch comes in an old-school volcano bowl with flaming rum in the center, the perfect image for all your social media snapping.
RiNo Yacht Club
3350 Brighton Boulevard
If you want to sample a punch without committing to a community bowl of the stuff, the Lipton Cup at RiNo Yacht Club is just what you need. "The Lipton Cup is our house cocktail that's never left the menu since day one and is our take on a traditional punch that defies seasonality," says barman McLain Hedges. "It is always there for you at the right time, as there is no off-time for a drink." This particular tipple, he says, offers notes of baking spices, tannins from tea-infused bourbon, bursts of tropical fruit thanks to rum, a round nuttiness from Madeira and bright acidity from lemon juice. All that, and the drink also has a vanilla-tinged, soft fruit essence from apricot and a touch of organic cane sugar. The bar doesn't serve this punch in a large format bowl, but you can sip it as a single drink and order more as needed.