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Gillman
01-23-2011, 15:26
David Wondrich, the New York-based cocktail writer, has just written "Punch", subtitled "The Delights (And Dangers) Of The Flowing Bowl". Wondrich has an academic background but also worked as a bartender. He has written a number of books on cocktails including "Imbibe", which chronicles the life and career of "Professor" Jerry Thomas, who wrote the first cocktails book in 1862. Wondrich is an excellent writer, who combines academic savvy and attention to detail with an interest in social history and just good plain fellowship. His writing has a good measure of humor too. "Punch" explores the history and attractions of this long-disused sub-set of the world's alcoholic drinks. Wondrich is careful in the introduction to separate the frat party purple punch and Sunday supplement alcohol-less versions from the real things, which are complex, subtle mixtures worked out over the centuries in Britain and America until the long decline of punch set in. It's a great read and essential for anyone with a learned or historical interest in the subject of alcoholic drink. Some 40 punch recipes are included, not least the famous Fish-House Punch of Philadelphia, plus his technique for how to make your own punches, distilled from very wide reading in an obscure literature.

Only $23.95 (U.S.) from Penguin, a bargain.

Gary

P.S. Whiskey punches, both hot and cold, British and American, have an honorable place in this book.

SBOmarc
01-24-2011, 06:32
I lament the idea that punch is not always welcome at a party or gathering. In this day of "specilaized cocktails" and irresponsible drinking, I see the punch bowl that used to be common now just used for very nice elaborate center pieces.

At a recent event that I did we made a rum punch that fit well with the island theme. It was well received. I knew exactly what was in the mix and the content of three rums and fruit juices along with cut fruit both looked and tasted great. One guest insisted that there was not enough kick. The host, not me corrected that by adding more rum to his drink. He was a mess by the the end of the party. Everyone else was fine.

Punches don't have to be heavy or sweet. As Gary said they can be hot as well as cold. They can suit any occaision. I will be looking for this book. Thanks Gary.

Gillman
01-24-2011, 08:33
Thanks for these notes Marc. Wondrich makes the same point about strength: he states that initially he would leave out some of the water or ice called for, and then found the drink was just too strong. He distinguishes punch from cocktails (meant to be strong and a "short" drink), possets, flips, and other related but not identical preparations.

He situates punch in its historical context, both social/economic (the need for a stimulant that was not too strong) and strictly spirituous (the need to temper the taste of young spirit that was feisty due to basic distillation methods - in effect he argues that punch was a variant on rectifying alcohol).

The Fish-House Punch of Pennsylvania sounds excellent. It is one of the oldest American punches. It is named for a fishing club on the Schuylkill river, historic in its own right, i.e., nothing to do with eating fish as such.

Many of these old mixtures were complex and had tastes that required careful adherence to the original method and ingredients. I may try my hand at one of these soon.

Gary

cowdery
01-24-2011, 20:16
Individualistic cocktails are what freedom-loving Americans want. Punch is for communists.

I know this is true because I heard it on Glenn Beck. :)

That said, I agree with you guys, but everyone knows I'm not to be trusted.

ILLfarmboy
01-24-2011, 21:55
Nice.....................what was that sarcastic punctuation thingy, I forget

SBOmarc
01-25-2011, 06:06
Individualistic cocktails are what freedom-loving Americans want. Punch is for communists.

I know this is true because I heard it on Glenn Beck. :)

That said, I agree with you guys, but everyone knows I'm not to be trusted.

"Punch is for communists". I see money to be made. T shirts and bumper stickers to start.

Gillman
01-25-2011, 07:25
Punch is a communal beverage, that far I will grant.

According to Wondrich, it started on the low end of the social scale and then rose much higher, as is the arc of these things.

Cocktails are more individual in nature but the dividing line isn't really clear, the jug of cocktail was a 1950's stand-by...

Gary

cowdery
01-25-2011, 10:14
And the original cocktails were simply punches prepared as individual servings.

Some of your better cocktail bars do "punch service," typically a small bowl that will serve a table.

But many people feel the same way about punch that they do about draft beer. I'm always amazed that someone will buy a bottle of some beer when the exact same beer is available on tap, often at a lower price. Although I was obviously joking before, it is related to the American passion for individualism above all else.

SBOmarc
01-25-2011, 12:51
I see the beer example played out time after time and I just don't understand. I have yet to see the small punch bowl being served at a bar.

I will always want a beer on tap when possible, but that is just me.

Gillman
01-25-2011, 13:08
It's the perception of status, perhaps because all bottled beer originally was from far away (or a certain distance anyway down a rail line), draft was local and rolled over to the bar or brought by, well, draft horse. :)

Status so often has nothing to do with quality.

Interesting about individualism and beverage alcohol. Drinks writer Michael Jackson once wrote in his inimitable way that thin English pancakes, a dish originally marking Shrove Tuesday, are typically rolled up neatly for eating: this exemplified for him the "insularity" of the English.

I like my pancakes the American way, not thin and splayed out on the plate with an indecorous amount of maple syrup poured on, spiked if possible. (Stu or Doug: did you ever try that with the Cinnamon Whisky?).

Gary

ILLfarmboy
01-25-2011, 13:35
Highly individualistic and new to beer, I always ask for the on tap stuff.

I prefer to drink from a glass. I like the larger servings, 20 oz English or 16 oz American pints verses 12 oz bottles. If the bottled version comes in clear or green glass and I get the draft, I know it won"t be skunked.

Am I an anomaly?

I don"t see how punch equates to draft beer. If it did, wouldn't the same be true of fountain pop verses cans and bottles.

To me, it sounds like Chuck is taking the preference for bottled beer and making something political out of it.


Do socialist countries gravitate to punches, draft beer and fountain drinks?

T Comp
01-27-2011, 20:54
Thank you for the heads up on the book Gary. It has been ordered. As to draft beer, at least in Chicago, many avoid due to the persisting myth that lines are not kept clean and all the nasty accumulations of yeast, bacteria and mold lead to worse things than a mild hangover. It's no longer true as the distributors have taken on the job of keeping the lines clean but thirty years ago, when I last bar tended, there were too many places I knew of with dirty lines.

cowdery
01-27-2011, 21:50
Thank you for the heads up on the book Gary. It has been ordered. As to draft beer, at least in Chicago, many avoid due to the persisting myth that lines are not kept clean and all the nasty accumulations of yeast, bacteria and mold lead to worse things than a mild hangover. It's no longer true as the distributors have taken on the job of keeping the lines clean but thirty years ago, when I last bar tended, there were too many places I knew of with dirty lines.

I had forgotten that but it's very true and not limited to Chicago.

fussychicken
01-31-2011, 00:27
Have to admit that I have been on the new punch bandwagon this last year, and have had a good time with it. I highly recommend Wondrich's Punch book, along with his fantastic earlier effort "Imbibe" about cocktails.

Fully agree with Gary and Marc as well. Punch doesn't have to be a sweet bomb. It also should be made to recipe (at least when that recipe is a good one) so that it isn't an alcohol bomb. This is great for dinner parties so that everyone can still have a nice adult drink but not drive home blitzed. This reason alone has turned me into a convert.

While America loves to claim the cocktail, it was interesting to read about how punch is something claimed by the British. Like Chuck said, cocktails were in many ways single serving punches (but with more of a kick usually). Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how old it is. Wondrich suggests that English were enjoying the world of punch for 200 or so years before we yanks "invented" the cocktail.

My favorite punch of the year was a nice variation of a Wondrich listed recipe called the Boston Club Punch:

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2010/11/10/boston-club-punch/

Went great at multiple dinner parties this year...

squire
02-01-2011, 15:27
I'm thinking pancakes and breakfast punch.