There’s just something about punch.
And we’re not the only ones who are beyond pleased that it’s becoming more and more available outside of baby showers.
Liquor historian David Wondrich brought punch into prime time with the publishing of Punch last November. But punch was headed for the best-seller list years before.
On the West Coast, Hobson’s Choice, a Victorian-inspired punch house in San Francisco, opened in, we think, the late 1990s.
Across the pond, there’s VOC in London — a punch house/tribute to the Dutch East India Company where traditional 17th century punch recipes are combined with modern cocktail making skills to “create a selection of drinks that have rarely been seen for over 200 years.” So says the menu.
And this past December, the New York Times noted that, “Hardly a cocktail bar has opened in New York in the past few months without giving a nod to the crystal bowl. Four Forty at the Royalton Hotel, 1534 on the Lower East Side and SoHo’s Lani Kai have all made room for punch in their programs.” The recently opened The Drink in Williamsburg, reports the Times, “has so devoted itself to the format that the flowing bowls have actually knocked individual cocktails off the menu.”
“We can and will make cocktails, but that’s not our focus,” said Frank Cisneros, a Drink owner. “We’re set up to do punch.” Period.
Punch is the oldest global cocktail, first recorded by John Fryer in the 1600’s. The original word for punch is “paantsch” which is Hindi for “five.” The original punches had five ingredients: spirit, sugar, lemon, water and teas or spices. It was the sailors and the fleet of the East India Company that brought punch to Europe and the new world. As the shipping routes opened up, sailors would use whatever local spirit was available — more often than not that was rum.
Rum punch is one of the most popular. Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic reignited the rum punch when they started the Tiki movement in the 1930’s in Hollywood. Their tropical bars decked out by Hollywood set designers were responsible for bringing the modern style punches to the acting elite.
No surprise, then, that Tiki is also enjoying a renaissance. Three new Tiki bars opened in New York last year alone along with several in the UK, like Trailer Happiness.
“The great thing about punches is that they can be a sharing drink,” says Rikki Brodrick of Trailer Happiness. “We sell a lot of punches at Trailer Happiness that can be shared by up to six people. It’s a great way to start a night or if you’re celebrating a special occasion.”