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Ancestral Cooking Forum

Punch: It’s Not Just for the Holidays Anymore

Punch: It’s Not Just for the Holidays Anymore

Published: December 23, 2008

INNUMERABLE Christmas stories, from Charles Dickens to Charlie Brown, conclude with the same message: how great it would be if only we could keep the holiday spirit all year round.

Most of us these days only see the bowl and ladle at year-end parties, if at all, but a thriving punch-drinking culture once existed throughout the English-speaking world. Bowls were shared in taverns and clubs, as well as the home. And this period — roughly from the 1670s through the 1850s — has become a point of inspiration for a growing number of American bars.

“Anybody who looks into the history of drinks will run into punch sooner or later,” said David Wondrich, the spirits writer whose research has done much to kindle the nascent punch revival. Last year Mr. Wondrich published “Imbibe!” — an engaging study of the 19th-century barman Jerry Thomas, in which punch plays no small part — just around the time a bartender he knows, Philip Ward, added bowls of classic punch to the menu at Death & Co. in the East Village. Not long after, another acquaintance, Julie Reiner, opened the Clover Club in Brooklyn and put her personal collection of vintage punch bowls into service.

This pocket-size “movement” has since hit serious cocktail establishments in Chicago and San Francisco. A recently opened bar in Boston, Drink, keeps an eclectic assortment of pitchers and bowls at the ready for punch requests, serving 2 to 20. The Gibson, a new lounge in Washington, has been doing punch-bowl service for private events, and plans to add it to the regular menu once it tracks down sufficiently stylish vessels. (In the meantime, two punches are served by the glass.)

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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