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The Better Way to Serve Cocktails From a Punch Bowl

by Staff
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Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Holiday parties aren’t complete without snacks, music, and festive drinks. (Oh, and friends too, but back to the drinks.) Selecting the very best holiday drink is essential to seasonal revelry, but so is the equipment. I’m always irritated by how ladles leave behind a good half-inch of quality alcoholic beverage at the bottom of flat-bottomed punch bowls, slow cookers, and Dutch ovens. Let’s stop this nonsense. It’s time to say good-bye to ladles, and hello to turkey basters.

As lovable as drunk friends can be, they have questionable motor skills. If they see that final inch of cranberry punch, but every time they scoop, it feels like getting water out of a horcrux bowl, they’re bound to take matters into their own hands. Lifting a giant glass container, or worse, a 16-pound Dutch oven with hot cider inside, is a terrible way to pour a drink. This is where a turkey baster comes in to save the party. The pointed end of a baster gets right down into the very bottom edge of any container you use. Guests don’t have to tilt or lift the bowl, and generally everyone has used a liquid dropper tool like this before, so they should be able to handle it even if the room is spinning a bit.

Specifically, a no-drip turkey baster is best if you can get a couple. I’ve been using this dripless baster which comes with an angled tip, replacement tip, and a cleaning brush. The angled tip has a tiny silicon gasket inside that helps stop drips until you squeeze the balloon end. A baster can also help some heavy handed guests portion their drink. An average turkey baster sucks up about one and a half to two ounces of liquid in a single suction, so two dips in the pool is a solid amount for a strong drink over ice.

Since they were originally intended for siphoning boiling turkey juice, basters are heat safe, so you can use them for steamy glögg, mulled wine, or hot apple cider. Simply plunk a baster into your punch bowl, or other large cocktail vat, and keep all ladles out of sight. If the pot has a lid, or you think your guests will be generally confused, put a piece of masking tape on the balloon side and label it something helpful, like “use me to pour drinks,” or “mulled wine baster.” Modeling the technique might also help get the ball rolling. Once a few people see you do it, they’ll be very excited to give it a try. Have a tall glass, or spoon rest, nearby to hold the baster and give it a home base for the night.

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