Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Giant Fishbowl Cocktails (That You’ll Actually Want to Drink)


When it comes to cocktails, bigger is definitely better. Just look at the not so humble fishbowl. The oversized beverage is fit for a quartet of drinkers—or one incredibly parched king—but unlike a punch that’s doled out into standard punch cups, a true fishbowl is garnished with colorful bendy straws, poking out from the liquid like psychedelic reeds.

Its party-friendly vibe is a double-edged sword, though, justifying too many cloyingly sweet bowls of neon gunk. But don’t let those syrupy fishbowls convince you that the fishbowl can’t be counted amongst serious craft cocktails. At Sink|Swim in Chicago, fishbowls are a thing of well-mixed beauty.

Bar manager Sean McNeilly understands the hurdles he faces in trying to subvert the fishbowl’s reputation, but he’s serious about his bright punches. “The fishbowls are a fun way to approach something that people generally make with overly sweet ingredients,” he says, “but with balanced and well-crafted cocktails.”

If you don’t have a fishbowl at home, these large format drinks would work great as traditional punches too, but never underestimate the simple glee of slurping from a communal bowl with a few friends, soda fountain style.

[No fish were harmed in the making of these mouthwatering cocktails.]

Matthew Kelly / Supercall
Light, appetite-whetting aperitifs are usually served in coupes or flutes, letting drinkers flit about their aperitivo hour before sitting down to a more serious drink with dinner. This isn’t one of those. Sink|Swim’s Spritz Collins could fill many clinking little glasses, but instead it arrives in one magnificent fishbowl.

The Sink|Swim team serves a lot of sparkling wine and cocktails, so transforming those refreshing flavors into a large-scale punch was an easy way to satisfy the bar’s many bubbly fiends. “The Spritz Collins is a play on two classic cocktails: the Aperol Spritz and the Tom Collins,” McNeilly explains. It combines the easy bitterness of Luxardo Aperitivo with the spritz of prosecco and herbal gin. “It’s a little bit more sessionable, a little lighter than other punches,” McNeilly says.

The Essentials

luxardo aperitivo
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
If you still believe there exists an impenetrable wall in the drinks world between precision-obsessed cocktail bars and freewheeling party spots, consider Sink|Swim’s Delorean Door. The big batch drink arrives in a fun-loving fishbowl, but the first taste will immediately betray the cocktail craft within.

According to McNeilly, the bar team began with the classic Sour formula, injecting punch-appropriate fun with strawberry syrup. Black tea-infused bourbon offsets the fruity sweetness with dry herbal flavor, amplified by sour lemon juice. “You’ve got some classic flavors—strawberry, honey and lemon—that always play really well together,” McNeilly explains. “Those play off the herbal notes you get from the tea. It finishes pretty dry.”

But the real secret to the drink’s complexity is the heaping portion of Peychaud’s bitters. “I’m a big fan of using lots of bitters in a drink,” McNeilly says. “People identify Peychaud’s with a Sazerac, but they don’t realize it works really well with fruity flavors, especially when you up the amount you’re using.” The (Delorean) door is open, come on in.

The Essentials

black tea bourbon
Strawberry syrup
Lemon Juice
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
The original Zombie is notorious for its mind-numbing effects on a single drinker, but this swollen version from Sink|Swim has enough diabolical oomph to lay waste to a whole group of imbibers. Boozy and bright—and garnished with a cinnamon stick, lime and umbrella made into a little floating island—the drink instantly starts a mini-luau.

While the recipe stays fairly true to the classic Zombie, McNeilly alters the drink slightly by calling for one very specific ingredient: Brovo Lucky Falernum. Created by Sink|Swim’s beverage director, Danny Shapiro, the almond syrup adds a spicy kick to the traditional formula. “It’s a little less sweet, a little more spicy than your typical falernum,” McNeilly says. “But you could also go classic or tailor it with another falernum.” You could even make your own.

The Essentials

Mixed rums
Fresh Pineapple Juice

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