How to Make Tropical White Sangría for a Big Group of People

Trader Vic wouldn't approve of the little paper umbrella. But he's not coming to your party, is he?
Trader Vic wouldn't approve of the little paper umbrella. But he's not coming to your party, is he?
JK Grence

Pool party season is definitely upon us. My tiki torches are primed and ready to go. All I need now is something delicious to serve my party guests.

I could always put out a big ice-filled bucket of beer, but what's the fun of that when I could make a great drink? In this case, something crowd-pleasing is key. It should have a decent kick, but not be so strong that everyone has only half a glass before staggering away. And the flavors should be at least a little familiar, but there should be a little extra twist so people don't get bored.

See also: 5 Tips for Making the Best Sangria Ever

I thumbed through my bar books for inspiration. I eventually landed upon one of my favorites, the 1972 Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide, arguably one of the finest books written about tropical drinks. On a dog-eared page was Tahitian Rum Punch for 100.

It fits my criteria perfectly. It's a little bit of a rum sour, but thanks to the inclusion of white wine it's mostly a white sangría. There's a variety of citrus fruit for complexity, and some banana and mint get an overnight soak to provide some subtle undertones. The overnight soak also means that the work on the day of the party will be minimal.

There is, however, one problem with the recipe. I can't fit 100 people in my backyard. At least, not without a shoe horn and guests willing to be friendlier than usual.   Scaling down the giant batch was easy enough. But when I studied the recipe, I realized that I could make it better. First, the original Vic's recipe juices all of the citrus, then lets the spent shells soak overnight in the wine. The problem with this is that the white pith is going to add some less-than-pleasant bitter notes. Since we are working with a smaller quantity of fruit, we can peel off the flavorful zest and just use that.

Also, the original recipe calls for just 2 sprigs of mint added to over 3 gallons of liquid. You'll never know it's there. We can safely bump the mint quantity up a little without risking that the end mixture will get overly minty and taste like toothpaste.

The wine you pick will make a difference. Select a dry white wine without oak. I'd go for something like a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pino Grigio. As with regular sangría, don't waste your money on expensive wine; all the subtleties of good wine will get wiped out by the citrus and rum. Three Buck Chuck works just fine here.

On the day of the party, all you have to do is strain out the solid parts, add a stiff belt of rum, and pour it over some decorative ice pieces (such as a flock of oversize ice cubes from those silicone molds that every budding home bartender seems to have). Just add friends, and you have an instant luau.

Tropical White Sangría for 10 Naturally, the recipe multiplies very easily. 1/2 cup brown sugar 6 oranges 5 lemons Half a grapefruit 1 banana, sliced 1 small sprig mint (4 or 5 leaves) 1 bottle dry white wine 2 cups light rum 2 1/2 ounces dark Jamaican rum

Peel zest from oranges, lemons, and grapefruit, then juice all of the fruit. Place zest, juice, sugar, banana, mint, and wine in a large pitcher. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Let stand in refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, strain solids from mixture. Add rum, stirring to combine. Serve over large pieces of ice.

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