Punch: the art of entertaining.
Punches are an underrated drink, they've been lumped in with the garish, unbalanced fishbowl for too long!
Punch is one of the oldest (if not the original) mixed drink, it would be impossible to do it justice in a short blog. For anyone interested I highly suggest David Wondrich's book, Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl. However in the meantime, let's sum up its long and colourful history in its briefest form.
The first written appearance of punch was in 1632, an English chap stationed in India wrote to a colleague wishing him good health and house but advising him against drinking punch. The first recorded recipe 6 years later, describing a drink Indian factory workers made from Aqua vitae, rose water, citrus and sugar. The idea behind the creation of punch is that British sailors, not used to the flavours of rum and other such spirits, wanted to create a drink much more suited to their wine and beer drinking palettes. They added citrus to replace the acidity lost during distillation, sugar to add balance and water to dilute the mixture to the ABV they were accustomed to. This is punch in it's purest form, from which the infamous rhyme was born;
One sour, two sweet, three strong, four weak.
The idea being, when sticking to that formula, the punch created will be perfectly balanced, no ingredient more noticeable than the rest.
Punch made its way to the UK along with the sailors and became the drink of choice for British aristocrats for the next few centuries. Citrus wasn't cheap and therefore the quantity of punch served hinted at how well off you were. Punch bowls became a sign of opulence, the larger and more intricate the bowl, the wealthier the family.
Then punch fell out of fashion sometime around the Victorian era, people no longer had the time to be sat around drinking with each other for long periods of time. The symbolism of sharing a leisurely drink with those around you was lost. But no more! In today's Instagram society the idea of enjoying a well made, extravagantly garnished cocktail with your pals is bang on trend.
So remember the golden rule and get punching!
Written by Dee Davies