I am sure that you have whipped up a punch or two for a party, but have you ever wondered why we call punch punch?
To begin with Punch is old, very very old. The earliest known use of the word was in 1632. This is the same year that the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye returning New France to France was signed, the construction of the Taj Mahal began, Galileo was being called into Inquisition for his belief that the sun was the center of the universe and spices fueled wars and exploration.
Now that you know when the word was first used, I will let you know what it means; it simply means five. Punch is a derivative of the Persian word panji or the Indian word paunch. Why five you ask? Once again, the answer is simple, there are five ingredients in a traditional punch. Two parts alcohol, one part water, one part sweet, one part sour and one part spice. There are many combinations of these five ingredients so there is a punch out there for any occasion or palate.
Before you set out to wow your guest there a few things to avoid to ensure the perfect punch experience.
Mixing it up too far in advance:
The best thing about a punch is that you can make a large batch for your guests and not have to worry about shaking up cocktails or pouring wine all evening. However, you do not want to mix things up too early because if you are using a sugary base such a fruit juice or soda pop, the flavors will begin to taste off. If you are using ice it will melt watering down your perfect punch. (see tip five to avoid watery punch).
Using too small of a serving vessel:
There is no correct way to serve a punch, most commonly a bowl is used but you can use a pitcher as well. The point of serving a punch is to keep it flowing all night and to have guests serve themselves without fear of the libations running low. Keep this in mind when you are selecting your vessel.
Avoid losing your fizz:
A sparkling punch is always a delight, but fizz fades fast and then things just go flat. The best way to avoid a fizz-less punch is to add your sparkles at the last moment.
Using too much alcohol:
Punch is meant to be served in small glasses and enjoyed throughout the entire party, go going overboard on the booze may deliver an unwanted one-two punch to your guests.
Match your ice to your vessel:
Refrigerator ice cubes are no match for a punch bowl, they melt too fast creating a watery concoction that won’t be enjoyed by anyone. To avoid this, make sure your ice cubes match your vessel size, the larger the bowl the large the cubes, try making them in a muffin tin or using your juice to make the cubes themself.
Gin pairs with citrus, berries, cucumber, black pepper, tonics and champagne
Rum makes a splash with pineapple, mango, nutmeg, cinnamon, bitters and simple syrup
Vodka combines nicely with citrus, cranberry, cherry, pear and ginger
Bourbon best matches with tea, mint, citrus, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and honey
You can now prepare the perfect punch.
The Well Heeled Libationist