Freeze Herbs In An Ice Ring To Elevate Your Cocktail Party Punch

Unless you want to be stuck playing bartender all night, making a punch for your cocktail party is essential. Retro as it may seem, bowls of punch are having a renaissance — and why shouldn't they? Whether you opt for a fruity classic or a fancy pre-batched cocktail, making punch frees up time so that you can get back to enjoying the party you're hosting. Of course, there's a science to serving a party punch that'll attract interest. Aside from pouring the tipple into a beautiful bowl and serving it with equally gorgeous glasses, the beverage itself must be pleasing to the eyes. Luckily, adding an herb-laden ice ring is enough to send guests flocking to the punch bowl.

Crafting an ice ring makes sense for a few reasons. In addition to being a beautiful floating centerpiece in the bowl, it also keeps cocktails cool without watering them down too heavily. In fact, unlike tossing in a bunch of ice cubes, a large block of ice will melt slower, reducing the risk of dilution. What's more, it's easier and quicker to make one giant ice ring than dozens of small cubes.

Despite that a stunning ice ring can be made with fruit slices, citrus zest, and even edible flowers, we love the look of fresh herbs. Adding a rustic and woodsy vibe to any punch, an herby ice ring laced with greenery is elegantly unmatched in what it can do for aesthetics, aromatics, and flavor.

How to make an iconic herbed ice ring

To craft an ice ring, you'll need three things: water, herbs, and a ring-shaped cake pan with a hole in the middle. Any number of tubular, bundt, or decorative pans will do the trick. The only thing to bear in mind is the size, as the mold should fit neatly into your punch bowl. Ideally, a modest diameter is best given that finding a bowl large enough to accommodate ice rings exceeding 7 inches wide can be tough.

As for suitable herbs, sage, rosemary, cilantro, mint, lavender, dill, or lemon balm, are all great. However, since they'll start to infuse the punch as the ice melts, it's worth using herbs that complement the flavors of your recipe. For example, pair peachy punch with basil leaves, citrusy wine tipple with herbaceous thyme, or a pre-batched Bloody Mary with parsley. Because an abundance of leaves can overcrowd the bowl as the ice melts, work predominantly with sprigs.

With the proper pan and herbs, you can create your ice ring. Simply layer the herbs into the ring pan — the more, the better — before pouring in water, leaving a few inches of space from the top. Then, leave it to freeze overnight. The next day, remove the ice ring from the pan by running it under warm water so it can easily be popped into the punch. All that's left to do is stand back and admire the beauty of your herby ice ring.