Life isn’t like a 1980s high school comedy. People don’t really go around dumping flasks filled with unknown alcohol into punchbowls at parties leading to crazy hi-jinx and shenanigans.
That being said, we would never tell anyone to spike a communal punch without notifying anyone. This could cause some awkward and potentially illegal outcomes. If you are specifically in charge of creating big-batch cocktails for a summer shindig, you need to know which spirits work well and which ones don’t.
When creating big-batch cocktails, the juniper and herbal flavors of gin work well in summer punches. Gin is mild enough that it won overpower citrus based punches. It also works well with flavors like cucumber, melon, lemon, lime, watermelon, lemonade and grapefruit. Try: Aviation Gin, Hendrick’s, Prairie, Old Tom Gin or Nolet’s Dry Gin.
The adaptive flavor of vodka is perfectly suited for almost any party punch. That’s probably why it’s one of the most common spirits used to spike a punch. It works well with fruit punch, lemon, lime, cranberry, lemonade, grapefruit and pretty much any flavor you can think up. Is a random Kool-Aid flavor your base? Vodka should be your go-to spirit. Try: Reyka, Russian Standard, Three Olives or honestly pretty much any vodka.
If you are going for more of a Caribbean flavor spiked punch, rum is your spirit. It mixes perfectly with lime, cola, mango, pineapple, orange juice, fruit punch and various other flavors. The sweeter the better when it comes to pairing rum. Try: Myer’s Dark Rum, Bacardi Gold, Sailor Jerry or Mount Gay.
You have to be careful when spiking the punch with tequila. Your party could end up a lot different than you anticipate if you choose the wrong tequila or add too much. It mixes well with pineapple, orange, lime, lemon, cranberry and grapefruit juices. Try: Maestro Dobel, Hornitos, Partida or Herradurra.
It might seem like whiskey is a one-trick pony. If you’re drink contains cola or any other dark soda, whiskey is a great spirit to pair with it. Whiskey also works with other bases, including: peach, lime, blood orange, berry, ginger ale, iced tea and a few others. Try: Jefferson’s, Bulleit, Old Grand Dad or Jim Beam.
Obviously moonshine and grain alcohol are not the same animal. But, they both fill the same need in the land of spiked punch and big-batch cocktails. White whiskey and moonshine are perfect for spiked punches because they have a fairly neutral flavor that won’t overpower any ingredients. The same goes for grain alcohol. Although, you should be sure to limit the amount of both of these potent spirits. Try (moonshine): Ole Smoky, Popcorn Sutton or Midnight Moon. Try (Grain Alcohol): Everclear. Or better yet, stick to some of the less harsh, lower ABV options.