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