Punch Origins

The beginning of human history-1850s

    Humans have likely been mixing alcohol with other ingredients since humans had discovered alcohol in our first civilizations. People have drank socially in nearly every major global culture in one way or another. In America, modern mixology has roots in the Europeans who colonized our shores. The Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower brought liquor with them to Plymouth. Right about the time that America was being colonized, it was very fashionable to drink punch in Europe, particularly among the British. There was a belief that drinking still water could be dangerous. This meant that punch could provide a “safe” alternative for hydration at gatherings. The word itself has roots in the word “paunch,” which means “five” in Hindu, having been popularized by British servicemen in India. The five ingredients of punch were traditionally spirit, lemon, sugar, water, and spice. Punch was useful to sailors because their beer would go flat in warm temperatures and the other ingredients (liquor, citrus, and spice) were easily accessible on large varieties of foreign soil. American drinking culture before the Golden Age was devoid of the cocktail. At a drinking establishment, a patron could most likely order liquor, wine, or beer. Punch was very much a social endeavor, something people organized for a party beforehand, and not something to be ordered at a tavern.

punch painting 1795.jpg

A still-life painting completed in 1795 of a punch bowl by Nils Schillmark.

    The punchbowl is a proto-cocktail in a way. It contains the ingredients that essentially make up a cocktail, yet one isn’t comfortable calling it a cocktail exactly. It’s worth mentioning to set the stage for American cocktail culture and mixology. All of the ingredients had been there for a long while, they were just waiting to be enterprise into a cocktail as we know it today.




Drink: Punch

    Part of the fun in making punch is rotating those five “paunch” ingredients (liquor, citrus, sugar, water, and spice) in new fashions that you enjoy. Current college students may call this “jungle juice.” Indeed, they are mixologist making their own form of punch.


In a prep bowl:

Peel 2 Lemons

Add 0.5 cup of superfine sugar

Muddle and let sit for 4 hours to allow the sugar to extract oils from the peels

Stir in 4oz fresh lemon juice

Add 16oz of spirit (brandy used in the video)

Add 8oz of spirit (port used in the video)

Add 2 cups water

Stir together and strain into the punch bowl

Garnish on top with grated nutmeg

Add ice if you like. For the authentic 1800s feel, leave it out

Punch Origins