It’s coming on springtime, which brings Easter and Dance Recitals, Baseball and Graduation Parties… Magical times call for magical beverages! And this one has proved itself to be good for kids of all ages.
I found this recipe when I was 22 years old. I had decided to throw a very large, very stylish birthday party for my eldest daughter, who was turning 3. I was on a mission. I had people to impress. Having become her mom less than a year before, I’d never organized anything like that EVER, I had no idea how the whole birthday-party-thing worked, I was a bit intimidated by the thought of a roomful of screaming children, and even more intimidated by not knowing what on earth to do with their parents? An awkward dilemma was magnified by the fact that I was half the age of most of the parents whose children I would be inviting, and several mothers at the Preschool went out of their way to make sure it was a far less-than-comfortable experience for me to show up to collect my little girl. I’ve always been one to deal with these things head-on, and so I sent the invitations to EVERY SINGLE PARENT in the school. Needless to say, EVERY SINGLE ONE RSVP’d. (Oh, Lordy.)
My daughter had wished for a Beauty and the Beast-themed party, so, armed with my two awesome sisters and the latest issue of the Oriental Trading Company novelty catalog (www.orientaltrading.com), I ordered games, art supplies, a million pink balloons, miles of paper streamers, and loads of party favors. The menu for the kids was simple: Pigs In a Blanket, Chicken Fingers, little double-decker PB-B&J finger sandwiches, grapes, berries, and melon balls. And Cheetos. Lots of Cheetos. I did a separate table for the adults, a more sophisticated spread including two kinds of quiche and a curried chicken salad. I figured I’d spare them the Cheetos, as we would have enough day-glo orange fingers to manage that afternoon. The tables looked beautiful. My sisters had done a smashing job of decorating the place. We were ready. And we had a secret weapon.
Food, decorations, and bravado aside, the secret weapon was this punch. Not only did the kids love it, especially with the fruit kebabs that they could eat right out of their glass, but my husband discovered it to be an excellent mixer with a bit of light rum in each of the adult’s glasses. We were unsure of how the parents would react to the offering of alcohol at a children’s party. I was personally prepared for anything. Condemnation. Hellfire and brimstone. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer delight and enthusiasm with which the offer of a wee nip was met. It was like magic. Voila! No more mean moms! Parents were beaming from ear to ear, the game Pin the Tail on the Donkey became an uproarious affair, and the kids had so much fun they didn’t want to leave. So my first offering to the Great Libation shall be what I call Happily- Ever- After Punch. May it work magic for you, too!
Happily-Ever-After Punch (aka Sparkling Pink Lemonade)
(Adapted from the Land O’ LakesTreasury of Country Recipes)
1-1/2 C sugar (or substitute stevia to taste, for a much healthier alternative!)
1-1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
1 qt club soda, chilled
4 tsp grenadine syrup
6” wooden skewers
Assorted fresh fruit pieces (strawberries, melon, pineapple chunks, etc.)
In a 2 – quart pitcher combine sugar and lemon juice; stir well. Refrigerate at least half an hour. Just before serving, add club soda. Stir in grenadine syrup.
On 6” wooden skewers, thread fruit pieces to make kebobs. Place kebobs in glasses, add ice, and pour in lemonade.
Note: this only makes 1-1/2 quarts, so be sure to make enough for your gathering! And in emergency situations, remember the rum.