Get your punch bowls ready: Making large-block ice
Punch is making a comeback and if you'd like to have a big bowl of it for New Year's Eve, you'll need to start getting your ice ready now. You'll need a large block of ice (less surface area) so your punch doesn't get watered down as the party progresses, and it takes a while for it to freeze.
"We make very large balls of ice that we put in the punch bowl, so that it keeps the punch cold but doesn't overly dilute it," says Julie Reiner, owner of Clover Club in Brooklyn. "So it can sit for a while and people can keep coming back to it. [At the bar] I have a large plastic mold, but you could use a Tupperware container that fits in your punch bowl. Fill it with hot water -- you get a much clearer piece of ice. When I have a party at my house and I serve punch, I'll just use a plastic container and put it in the freezer for a day or so. It's going to be a 24-hour freeze at least." (She adds berries to her ice for her Champagne Punch, pictured above. Punch recipes will be included in a punch story that runs in this week's Food section.)
Marcos Tello of the Edison in downtown L.A. uses old 64-ounce juice cartons, such as for orange juice -- or you could even use milk cartons. Wash them out thoroughly, fill them with water and freeze. Once frozen, you can just open the carton and tear it away from the ice. You could also use any nonreactive bowl or pan (such as a Bundt pan), whatever fits in your punch bowl -- which should be well-chilled.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo: Julie Reiner's Champagne Punch at Clover Club. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times