Sons of Liberty punch, served at Drink in Boston.
With the exception of an occasional
bridal shower or holiday party, it has
probably been years since you dipped
a ladle into a punch bowl and poured a
glass—maybe even a lifetime, depending on the decade in which you came of
age. But suddenly the party standby is
staging a comeback and inventive takes
on classic punch recipes are appearing
on menus at some of the country’s hippest cocktail dens. These drinks, made
with fresh fruit juices, spices and spirits
(hold the ginger ale and sherbet, please),
are sti; enough to prove that punch can
have … well … punch.
Punch owes its return to fashion to
the cocktail craze that has put drinks
like the Flip and the Sazerac in the
hands of modern-day imbibers and has
spawned the opening of Prohibition
speakeasy–style bars across the country.
But punch is the granddaddy of vintage
cocktails. Its roots stretch back centuries, to a time when people traveled by
horse or stagecoach and gathered at taverns. In fact, you can find punch recipes
dating to the 1600s.
“Punch predates the cocktail and goes
back to the time when global trade first
started, when people were getting di;erent fruits, lemons and limes, and spices
for the first time,” says David Kaplan, co-owner of Death & Company in Manhattan’s East Village, a cocktail-oriented bar
that has led the punch revival.
Death & Company o;ers a selection of
punches that changes seasonally, such as
the Billingsley Punch, a mix of Tanqueray
gin, Aperol, fresh grapefruit juice, fresh
lemon juice, bitters and champagne. Each
version is made for groups of four to six
and is served in vintage milk glass punch
bowls, with silver ladles that Kaplan collects from antique shops and eBay.
“Punch really has this di;erent flavor
profile and service style,” Kaplan says.
“To get the punch bowl at the table and be
able to serve yourself and others, whether
people understand it or not, is a very dif-
That spirit of communal drinking has
inspired the owners of other establish-
ments. Places such as Drink in Boston’s