The year is 1985 and we are on the verge of leaving college. Having had a blast throughout the three years we were there, we decide to go out with a bang – a slap-up party. Yet another party? After having partied our way through three years? But how else??!
And so we plan – a “not too big” party because we don’t have a place big enough! Word spreads and people invite themselves or appear to think that they’re invited anyway – we are too polite, too bred in the Hyderabadi tehzeeb and also too young to figure out how to contain numbers! And so finally, as the day of the party dawns, we are not quite sure what the numbers are likely to be – anywhere between twenty five to fifty seems likely! The venue is my friend Priya’s house – her cook is the VERY BEST in the business, you see! Expenses we share – anyway in the Hyderabad of the ’80s, expenses were rather peanut-ty! And so we set to with a will the morning of the party, cleaning up, washing up and wiping cutlery and crockery , shifting furniture and generally creating havoc! We are so busy we don’t notice we haven’t had lunch and suddenly it’s time to get ready for the party. All D2K (dressed to kill!), we powder and puff and preen and prink gloriously in the mirror!
A friend – Gautam Sinha – has very generously offered to mix a really mean punch for us for the party and tells us what to get – some rum, some fruit juice, lots of lemons and loads of ice. We are efficient!
Gautam rushes in, hurriedly mixes the punch, adds ice and leaves it to stew in a big steel cask – we need a really enormous cask and a chai urn usually used for serving tea to the jawans is the closest we can manage…
Being hostesses, we are ready early to receive the earliest guests. Pangs of hunger strike – remember we’ve been too busy to have lunch! The urn beckons. Let’s try this stuff to check if it’s good. Shreesha and I down a quick glass – yum! Teenage hunger is not so easily assuaged. One more? Sure, why not? And another? But, of course! Priya has stuff to see to so she samples just one glass.
Gautam rushes in – just before people start to arrive – hey, awfully, awfully sorry but I seem to have mixed up the proportions of the ingredients. It’s supposed to be three parts of juice to one part of rum – and I’ve mixed it the other way round! And so, in the space of about fifteen minutes, we seem to have imbibed the equivalent of nine shots!
For two extremely tiddly teenagers who are as teenagers are wont to be, normally giggly and right now, uncontrollably so, this sounds completely delightful! Giggles multiply. Reach a crescendo. Priya comes rushing in, takes one look and hustles us off to the frig where she stuffs bread and butter down our reluctant and giggly throats!
The giggles turn into an uncontrollable desire to dance and dance we do – for the next eight hours without sitting down, solemnly making a pact not to sit down at all!
And the numbers finally roll in at over 75 people – the party of the year!
Gautam Sinha makes the meanest rum punch ever! Having tried for years to reproduce it and finally coming to the decision that it was teenage and an empty stomach that made it so delectably spirit-ed, I’ve finally come to my own…
- 1.5 cups dark or golden rum
- 3 cups orange or mango juice – chilled
- 3 cups pineapple juice – chilled
- Juice of 3 large lemons
- 3 cups soda
- 1 cup ice cubes
- Sugar syrup – 1/2 cup
- 2 tbsp grenadine – see note below on how to make it at home in minutes
- Mint leaves – crushed
- Lemon slices
TO MAKE GRENADINE
- 2 cups pomegranate juice – fresh or canned – unsweetened
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 lemon
Boil the juice and sugar together for about 5 minutes till slightly thickened. Cool, squeeze in lemon juice and bottle in a dry bottle. Freeze. Voila – grenadine with NO preservatives!
FOR THE PUNCH
Mix in everything. Chill. Serve over crushed ice with mint leaves and lemon slices.
Dance. Sing. Do whatever. BUT PLEASE EAT BEFORE YOU DRINK this very potent brew!
I cannot tell you what we ate that day – having no memory of the dinner menu whatsoever, but the punch is gloriously etched in my memory!