From what I hear, outside of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo in Mexico is kind of not really a thing, but here is the US it has become the one day of the year when we celebrate Mexican food, culture, and all the vibrant traditions the beautiful people south of the border have brought to this country. It is with that spirit that I’m inviting all the Mexican-Americans in our tiny town over for a party (good thing all three of them already live here–that’s really going to cut down on the dishes).
There will be spicy, bean-smeared tostadas, loaded with simmering pieces of pork and crunchy, cilantro-spiked slaw. Deep bowls overflowing with guacamole and jalapeño-spiked salsa, crispy, freshly-fried churros and the most refreshing tart-sweet tamarind-rum punch you’ve ever tasted.
I suppose tequila or mezcal would be more fitting but I have a bottle of rum my dear friend Nadja brought me from Jamaica when she went home over Christmas to visit family. It has been burning a hole in my liquor shelf (we aren’t fancy enough to have a cabinet) and I just had to use it in this tropical, boozy concoction.
Tangy, fruity, and sweetly sour, this punch is addictive and best when you have a lot of people coming over to help you drink it. It is made with tamarind pulp which I bought in a rectangular brick at the Asian market in cosmopolitan Fargo, but you can also (like everything else in the world) buy it online.
I’m not going to lie, this punch has some liquor, but not so much as to knock you on your butt and would actually make a very nice daytime cocktail for say, I don’t know, Mother’s Day brunch, which (hint, hint) is coming up on Sunday.
It is best to start this the night before and give the tamarind and ginger overnight to steep and soften. Also, if you want to make pretty ice for the punch bowl, this is best done the night before too, giving it plenty of time to freeze. You can actually make the whole thing (minus the Moscato and fruit) up to 3 days in advance, the punch actually gets better as it sits. Just add the bubbly and fresh stuff right before serving.
- 8 cups water
- 8 ounces tamarind pulp
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 3-inch piece ginger, sliced
- 1 (200 ml) bottle rum (3/4 cup)
- 1 (750 ml) bottle Moscato
- 2 limes, thinly sliced
- 8-10 strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
- Combine water, tamarind pulp, sugar, and ginger in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat and simmer 5 minutes, breaking up the tamarind with the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and let cool then cover and let steep for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
- Meanwhile, if you are planning on serving the cocktail in a punch bowl, make the ice by filling a container that is half the size of the punch bowl with water, cover with a lid if possible, and freeze until solid.
- Strain the tamarind mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large punch bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much moisture as possible. Add the rum and Moscato and stir to combine.
- Garnish the punch with the limes and strawberries, reserving a few for the glasses. Run the container holding the ice under hot water until it releases itself, place it in the punch bowl and serve.