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Punch Up the Outdoor Fun With This Festive Summer Refreshment

by Aravis Moore

Jun 26, 2020

Add some pizzazz to your punch bowl with an easy-to-make (and entirely edible) block of decorative ice.

A bowl of summer punch with a decorative block of ice floating in the center.
Photo by: Aravis Moore

When you’re basking in the backyard with your favorite crew, nothing keeps a chill gathering going quite like a refreshing libation. And whether you’re stirring up a lightly spiked cocktail for the grownups or fruity lemonade for the littles, adding a decorative block of ice to your punch bowl is an easy way to instantly up the fun factor. Infused with colorful edible flowers, citrus slices, and sprigs of summer herbs, this enchanting floating centerpiece is sure to keep things frosty and festive.

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To preserve your preferred arrangement of edibles at the top of the ice block, I like to use a special, two-part freezing process that requires 14 total hours of chilling time—so the trick is to make sure you start early the day before you plan to serve your punch. Follow along as my niece and I show you how it’s done!

Flat lay of ingredients and materials needed to prepare the recipe.

Iced Summer Citrus Punch

You will need:

  • Edible flowers (I used pansies, dianthus, and roses; marigolds, nasturtiums, and cornflowers would also make for a colorful mix)
  • Citrus (I used lemon and lime, but oranges, grapefruit, or tangerines are equally good)
  • Herbs (try mint, lavender, rosemary, perilla, or lemon balm)
  • 4 cups of water (depending on the size of your container)
  • 2 cups of ice cubes or crushed ice
  • Ring cake pan, round cake pan, or round plastic container (almost any container will work—even a bundt pan or a mixing bowl—just make sure you have ample space for it in your freezer)

Step 1: Prep your produce

Aravis slices lemons and limes while her niece pulls mint leaves off their stems.

Rinse the fresh herbs, plucking leaves from the stems. Slice the citrus.

Step 2: Arrange artistically

Aravis and her niece arrange flowers and mint leaves in the bottom of a cake pan.

Aravis's niece adds a lemon slice to the arrangement.

Lay out your edibles face-down at the bottom of your chosen vessel in any pretty pattern that pleases you.

Step 3: Weigh down decorations

Aravis's niece adds ice cubes to the pan to help weigh down the decorations.

To hold your design in place, weigh down lighter items with slices of citrus or ice cubes. Carefully pour in enough water to cover the bottom layer of decorations—but not enough that the ice or citrus start to float. Freeze for about six hours, until frozen solid.

Step 4: Remove, refill, re-freeze

Aravis removes the ice block from the cake pan after 6 hours.

Aravis reinserts the ice block in the pan with the decorations facing up so that she can re-freeze for another 8 hours.

When the ice has fully frozen, run a little warm water over the bottom of the container to loosen the block, then remove it. Add a few inches of water to that same container, flip the ice block over so the decorations are on the top, and float it on the water. Place back in the freezer for at least eight more hours, or overnight, to create a thicker ice base. 

Step 5: Put together your punch

Aravis pours her punch mixture over the finished ice block, which is nestled in a crystal punch bowl.

The finished punch bowl with decorative floating ice.

Once the second freeze is complete, run warm water over the bottom of the container to loosen and remove your ice, and place it in a pretty punch bowl. Add your beverage of choice, and garnish with extra citrus slices.

Need some drink ideas?

For this recipe, I made a bright, summery blend of three parts lemonade to one part fresh grapefruit juice, sweetened to taste with sumac simple syrup, but you might also try one of these refreshing sips:

Sweet Mint Tea

Brew a pitcher of green tea with a handful of fresh mint, then sweeten with a drizzle of honey and serve ice-cold.

Spiced and Spiked Tea

Mix one part black tea to one part ginger beer and brighten with a squeeze of lime juice—and maybe a dash of rum if you’re feeling frisky.

Sparkling Pink Lemonade

Drizzle grenadine over a batch of lemonade for an appealing rosy hue, and top with a sparkling splash of club soda.

An animated gif of the finished punch surrounded with various decorative fruits and herbs.

Set a picture-perfect picnic table

Relaxing in your backyard is a breeze with these swoon-worthy staples.

A collage of dining supplies available on Etsy.
SHOP (top to bottom, left to right): Mod glassware from Vital Industries, $30 for set of 2; lemon-printed tea towel from Hand Drawn By Jenine, $18; glass fruit bowl from Vetrocity, $55; vintage dessert bowl from Betty's Attic treasures, $15; set of 3 ceramic citrus bowls from Vegetabowls, $60; glass carafe from AJ Metissage, from $87; charcuterie board from Farmhill Woodshop, from $40; hand-dyed napkin set from Apricot LA, from $25

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Aravis Moore

Aravis is the food program lead in the Brooklyn office. She's also a home pie baker and a newly minted jigsaw-puzzle aficionado.