Punch is not just a frilly, frou frou drink for high school proms or bridal luncheons. As a matter of fact, the history of punch is colorful, involving both pirates and rogues as well as gentleman and high society dames. Drinking punch wasn’t uncommon in an everyday bar by your average working class guy and soon bars known as “punch houses” popped up. Punch, however, was also something on display at fancy parties where guests drank it out of beautiful cups and ornate punch bowls. You can even find a rum punch in the journals of the first lady Martha Washington.
Some say that the origin of the word might be linked to Hindu or Sanskrit words meaning “five,” referring to the number of ingredients in traditional punch of days gone by: sour (citrus), sweet (sugar), strong (alcohol), bitter (aromatic cocktail bitters, bitter cordial, spices, or tea), weak (water). Punch was wildly popular in the early days of the United States, before we were even a United States of America!
Here are two quick and easy punches for your holiday entertaining. Pull out those punch bowls!
Black tea makes an excellent punch ingredient as its bitter tannins balance out the flavors of the fruit juices and sugar. You can serve this in a punch bowl with a large frozen chunk of ice. It’s also a great punch served on the rocks topped up with ginger ale.
- 1 pint Chilled Black Tea
- 1 pint Pineapple Juice
- 1 quart Orange Juice
- 1 pint lemon Juice
- 1 pint Bourbon
- 3 cups Simple Syrup*
- 1 quart Ginger Ale
- *2 cups Water, 2 cups Sugar bring to boil
Mix tea, juices, Bourbon, and simple syrup together in a gallon container. Refrigerate to chill. Top with cold ginger ale before serving.
Spiced Apple Punch
Rum was the spirit of America long before we even knew how to make Bourbon. Dark Rum, spices and apple cider combine for the perfect holiday cocktail. The flavor is so versatile you can serve warm or hot…or give your guests the choice and serve it both ways.
- 1 quart Dark Rum (Editor’s note: we suggest Saint James Reserve 12 Yr Old, silver medalist in the 2013 NY International Spirits Competition)
- 1 quart Unfiltered Apple Cider
- 1 quart Ginger Beer
- 3 cups Spiced Simple Syrup* (recipe follows)
- Apple slices for garnish
Mix all together and chill if serving cold. When ready to serve, pour into punch bowl with a large chunk of ice and garnish with apple slices. If serving warm, mix up a batch in a crock pot to keep warm.
*Spiced Simple Syrup
- 2 cups Water
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- ¼ teaspoon Nutmeg
- 2 Cloves
Boil water and sugar with spices, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and let sit until cool. Pour syrup through a strainer into bottle. store refrigerated until ready to use.