Lemon Grape Bubbly

People still drink punch, right?  Not like at real parties or anything, but I bet it still gets served at office parties.  My last punch was at a middle school dance I helped chaperone.  One of the stay at home moms (who also seemed to be a stay out of the kitchen mom) dumped a bunch of Sprite into a gigantic bowl and then floated a plastic bucket-shaped iceberg of generic rainbow sherbert in the middle.  It was…not great.

I don’t know what constitutes a punch exactly.  I think it’s just two liquid ingredients and a big bowl.  The bowl is important.  I don’t think you can make punch in a pitcher.  Or can you?  This week’s concoction, Lemon-Grape Bubbly, was made in a pitcher BUT it was also on a page with other punches, so I guess it’s a push.

It’s from the Some Like A Lot section of the book.  That bothers me because it’s total preparation volume is far less than some of the other punches in the book.  I think they just wanted to have rhyming sections.  I can’t judge.

The grape juice and Kool-Aid both assert themselves forcefully in the nosegrope.  It smells quite refreshing.

The grape juice provides the most flavor.  It’s the backbone of the drink.  The Lemonade Kool-Aid is layered on top of that, and the 7 Up really helps to thin things out and add some sparkle.  7 Up is not nearly strong enough to compete with such strong flavor opponents.  All of the flavors work very well together, but they are intense.  It’s a very tart and very sweet drink.  Four ounces of 7 Up and grape juice alone constitutes around 60 grams of sugar.  But it’s not bad!

A better attempt would be to replace the 7 Up with soda water.  And a lot more than the 2 cups the recipe calls for.  And a lot of ice.  And maybe a lot of vodka.  Thin this stuff out and it would be an ok punch.  Or drink.  Or whatever the rule is.  Just pour it in a big bowl and go nuts.  And tell that lady with the sherbert bucket to go the hell home.  Nobody likes her anyway.

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Hot Spiced Punch

Hot Spiced Punch, from the Some Like It Hot section, is a slight variation on the can-this-really-be-called-a-recipe recipe for Hits-the-Spot Punch I made for the last post.

I opted for Orange Kool-Aid again because I thought it would work the best with cinnamon and cloves.

I find something very post-modern, or maybe existential, about seeing the beauty of natural ingredients like a cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon slices floating in an artificial and violently orange batch of Kool-Aid.  It speaks to me somehow.  A comment on modern living, or societal evolution, or food trends throughout history, or God versus man.  I dunno.  It’s no upside-down urinal but there’s something to it.

This reminded me of the Honey Lemonade (which has been the best preparation so far).  Same use of cinnamon and cloves, but not as much of them.  The flavor is subtler, but the spices do work pretty well with the Orange.  I can’t see them meshing with Strawberry or Tropical Punch.  Maybe if Apple Kool-Aid had been around in 1976, then we’d have something grand.

Also, searching for the long out of print Apple Kool-Aid flavor leads to a zillion iPhone and Mac-bashing Google results for posts made by people who I’m sure think they are being very original with their condescension.  Jonestown was in 1978, let’s update those insults a bit, shall we?

Also, they’re just phones and computers, guys.  Calm the eff down.

Hits the Spot Punch

Today, I hit the road in search of a pitcher.  I decided I can’t be taking photographs of some generic straight-sided plastic monstrosity.  No soul there.  I needed one of those classic, curvy, glass numbers.  And the one I got is just that.  It’s pretty great.

I also picked up some punch glasses.  I can’t be serving my hot Kool-Aids in handle-less juice glasses.  You gotta have little handles.  Little handles class up any affair.

“Can I interest you in some hot Kool-Aid punch?  No?  How about some hot Kool-Aid punch in a glass with a little handle?  Ooh la la is right!  Here you go.”

So now I’m set for glassware.  Still might have to pick up a punch bowl, but that’s for another day.

Now, I have to admit I don’t get today’s recipe.

Hits the Spot Punch, from the Some Like It Hot section, is Kool-Aid served hot and sweeter than normal.  Yes.  Sweeter!  If you know your Kool-Aid, then you know normal preparation calls for one cup of sugar and two quarts of water (too sweet already).  This recipe decreases the water amount by a half of a quart.  Kind of a lot.

And tweaking your water content doesn’t exactly constitute a difference profound enough to be considered a different recipe.  Why not have a recipe with two and half quarts of water?  Three?  Two and seven-eighths?  The possibilities are literally endless.

Also, inverting the normal temperature of your product doesn’t make it a new recipe either.  For serious.  Is there another cookbook somewhere that has a recipe for hot apple pie and then, on a separate page, cold apple pie?  Grilled chicken breast, then refrigerated grilled chicken breast?  I don’t think so.

But I made it.  With Orange.  Not my favorite flavor but it was fine.  It was really sweet, hot Orange Kool-Aid.

Come on, anonymous Kool-Aid kitchen lab technicians from the past.  I’m sure you guys are good people.  You can do better than this.

Honey Lemonade

Picture the scene.

You and your special lady are snuggled up in some deep burnt orange shag carpeting.  The fire in your wood-paneled, burnt-orange-accented den is crackling away.  You run your fingers through her feathered hair.  So feathery.  She playfully traces the edge of your burnt orange collar.  So wide.

You stare into each other’s eyes and clink your mugs together, then sip from the piping hot, freshly made Honey Lemonade.  It’s tart.  It’s sweet.  It’s sensual.  So sensual.

Awwwww yeah.

And scene.

Today we take an entry from the Some Like It Hot beverage section of Kool-Aid Comes of Age.  Honey Lemonade is a warmed up treatment of a Kool-Aid Lemonade packet dressed up with a cinnamon stick and some cloves.  Half of the usual cup of sugar is replaced with honey for an extra flavor layer.

This drink is sweet to be sure.  Very sweet.  Since starting this project, anytime I make straight up Kool-Aid, I always dial down the sugar content by at least half.  At least.  But I’m following these recipes to the letter, so I’ll try not to mention the sweetness issue too often.

I have to admit this is not a bad beverage.  The spices toned down the tartness of the Lemonade a bit and give the whole thing a very wintery feel.  I’ve never had hot Kool-Aid before.  It’s very exciting.  It feels naughty.  So naughty.

I also followed the recipe’s option of serving it chilled, and it was still pretty good.  Refreshing and wintery.  Like a spicy snowman.  What?  I dunno.

Strawberry Cooler

We’ve all had watermelon.  Does any food that’s artificially watermelon-flavored taste anything like watermelons?  No.  Watermelon Bubblicious doesn’t taste like a watermelon.  It tastes like watermelon gum.  When you’re offered a piece of watermelon gum, you know the flavor you’re going to get.   But we accept it as “watermelon” and carry on.  I’m fascinated by this.

It floated to the forefront of my mind this week as I made a Strawberry Cooler.  Strawberry Kool-Aid mixed with some frozen strawberries with a few mint leaves thrown in for good measure.  Unlike the Mint Fruity Surprise, the mint is used here mostly for garnish.  No steeping in boiling water.  Cold all the way.  But that’s fine because who doesn’t love a good garnish?

When you have Strawberry Kool-Aid and an actual strawberry in your mouth at the same time, you really ponder how we have come to accept all these artificial flavors.  It’s quite the accomplishment, food manufacturers.  I begrudgingly tip my hat to you.  Makes me wonder how else I am being reprogrammed.

Overall, a Strawberry Cooler is pretty good.  It’s worlds colliding!  Artificial and Natural teaming up to fight together!  How could it not be good?

Also, this could easily be moved from the Some Like It Cold to the Halloween Party section of the book.  There’s something very mad scientist or maybe vampiric about ragged strawberry carcasses floating about it such an intensely red liquid.  Muahahaha!

Mint Fruity Surprise

Here we go!  History is made today, culinary adventurers!  The first recipe from Kool-Aid Comes of Age for the Cooking with Kool-Aid Project.  I figured I’d start with something easy.  To be fair, they’re all pretty easy.  This is not Modern Cuisine by any stretch.  But still!

This recipe for Mint Fruity Surprise (the recipe names could really use some work) is one of the five recipes from the Some Like It Cold section of the book.

Essentially this is mint-infused Kool-Aid, but the term “infused” didn’t exist in the 70s as it was invented four years ago by hipster chefs the world over.  One cup of the water normally reserved for straight-off-the-package Kool-Aid is used to steep mint leaves, and then everything is mixed together.  I opted for the strawberry preparation because this is the first post and strawberry is a classic.

I didn’t think this was going to be any good.  This was the first time I’ve used mint leaves for anything, and I was a little intimidated by their intensity.  But it tastes pretty good, I must say.  The strawberry is the most noticeable, obviously, but the underlying mint is subtle and a nice complement.  (My mint leaves seemed small, so there may be room to ratchet up the mint’s strength) The balance works, and the drink is pretty crisp and refreshing when served ice cold.

And look at it!  It’s beautiful!  That’s some sexy Kool-Aid all up in your face.

I think that might prove to be a fairly common occurrence.  I’m fascinated by anything that’s artificial and candy-colored.

One recipe down and sixty-two to go.  We’re off to a good start!