Gary Hayward’s Embers Ski Lodge delivers a little mountain charm to Nashville, and the Ajax Punch, named after a patio bar at the base of the gondola on Aspen Mountain, features white rum with refreshing muddled cucumber and watermelon, topped decadently with sparkling wine.
“The Ajax has been really popular this summer… It’s nice for the bartenders to be able to whip up several drinks at a time,” says Hayward. “And when you’re at home, punches are perfect for entertaining a large group.”
Put a palm full of cubed watermelon and cucumber pieces in a tall glass, and muddle until juiced.
Squeeze one lime half into glass, discard rind.
Fill glass with ice, add rum and simple syrup.
Top with sparkling wine.
Stir gently and garnish with basil leaves and watermelon spear.
Large-format recipe (makes 20-25 servings):
1 1/2 liters of Bacardi silver rum
2 liters Ajax syrup
In a large punch bowl, combine rum and Ajax syrup and stir.
Add ice to individual glasses and fill glasses 3/4 with punch.
Top glass off with chilled sparkling wine and stir quickly.
Garnish with watermelon spear and mint sprig.
To make Ajax Syrup (makes 2 liters):
Make 1 liter of simple syrup by adding 4 1/4 cups of white sugar to 4 1/4 cups warm water. Stir until dissolved and set aside to cool.
Combine 14 cups pureed watermelon with 7 cups pureed cucumber. Save the watermelon rind for garnishes. Combine melon/cucumber puree with simple syrup.