One More Sip of Summer with Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl Social helps us hold on to that vacation feeling.
Bar lead Sean Merrill shakes up a summery drink.

Here at City South Magazine, we’re always looking for ways to extend summer. That gets harder when the kids are back in school and morning temperatures dip into the 40s. So this month we decided to check out a popular winter denial spot where you can take a sip of summer, and play a few games while you’re at it: Punch Bowl Social.

The St. Louis Park location opened in November 2016 and it’s had a steady following since as the place to eat, drink and play. National beverage director Patrick Williams says when he first started with the restaurant in Denver in 2012, punch was just coming back as a trend. “We set out to be craft cocktail focused with a nod to the diner element,” he says, which is noticed with the soda jerk section of the menu. Take a trip back in time with a German chocolate egg cream (coconut cream, chocolate sauce, whole milk and sparkling soda) or coco fresca (coconut milk, coconut water, simple syrup, sparkling water and lime juice).

On the craft cocktail side, “the high fashion is one of our great low alcohol drinks,” Williams says. The grapefruit syrup for the drink is made in-house: “We take whole grapefruit and cover it with sugar for at least three days … and we turn it into a syrup,” he says. That is mixed with aperol, lemon juice and sparkling wine and is perfect before a meal: “The bitterness in the grapefruit gets your appetite going.”

If you’re more in the mood for something with a kick, “Our king’s cup is our favorite way to continue summer,” Williams says. “It’s got two rums—8-year-old Bacardi and Rum Haven made with real coconut water. [It’s mixed with] sweet tea, and the acidity comes from a pineapple shrub.” This is one of their famous punches, meaning it’s available in a single serving glass, or pitchers/bowls of four or eight servings.

But they’re not just about big bowls of booze, Williams says. “We rolled out an additional menu that we call our booze-less craft. We want those people who aren’t drinking … but want to order something adventurous and fun.” For that, the sections include: The soda jerk section, the juicer section, the preschool section (craft mocktails) and the locally roasted section – for which they’ve partnered with Dogwood Coffee.

“The fresh juices have a little something for everyone,” he says. “I take a mixology approach to those. I want them to taste great.” Popular choices include the purist, made with beets, carrots and apples; and Ginger Rogers: lemon and ginger shrub with cucumber and pear.

These popular choices aren’t fabricated by the bartenders, Williams says. “The menu evolves. Every few months there’s a shakeup and it’s an awesome challenge for me to get in the lab and try things out. We listen to our guests and pay attention to trends.”

Being local is one of those trends. While the headquarters is based in Denver, Williams is always looking for ways to keep the St. Louis Park restaurant local. “Is there a local whisky or local gin that would work well in this? We listen to the market and customize as much as we can.”

So belly-up to the bar with your cocktail (or mocktail, or juice, or milkshake or egg cream) and feel free to ignore the change in season.  


Let the games Begin!

Another great way to ignore the change in season is to keep playing yard games. At Punch Bowl Social, the entertainment options are nearly limitless. Choose from 8 bowling lanes, ping pong, bocce ball, foosball, two private karaoke rooms, billiards, an ’80s arcade, corn hole, giant wall scrabble and board games.

“We went on big stakes,” Williams says. When creating a new location, “We don’t go under 20,000 square feet.” They start with the “boutique bowling vibe,” he says. Then, “we compartmentalize and add activities in different parts. You can walk around and have a different experience every time you come.”

And during the inevitable blizzard, “stay there for the day,” he says. There’s always something new to do, he says. “It keeps you engaged and gives you opportunities.”

“It’s really something that was missing from the restaurant world,” he says. “You go out for dinner, and you go out for entertainment. Why not do it all in the same space?”

DRINK DICTIONARY

1.Shrub: An aged blend of fruit juice, sugar and (sometimes) spirits.  

2.Egg Cream: A drink made with milk or cream, flavored syrup and soda water (surprise! Contains no egg).  

3.Mixology: The art or skill of preparing mixed drinks.

Source:
merriam-webster.com