P
unch these days is adding renewed zest and
vigor to bars, restaurants and hotels. Although
well-known to geeky cocktailians as an
especially sociable concoction, with some
recipes dating back centuries, its renaissance today is
definitely punching up profits in ways hardly imaginable
a few short years ago. And when mixologists discuss
Punch today, they are certainly not talking about the
neon-colored liquids that collegiate types have been
known to throw together for a frat party. Authentic
Punch is a studied ritual in the making, serious bar-
tenders assert, not merely a big boozy bowl.
“The Punch phenomenon emerged as part of the craft cock-
tail revival and the recovery of the lost arts of the bar,” says
Chad Solomon, co-founder along with Christy Pope of Cuffs
& Buttons Cocktail Catering & Consulting, a Brooklyn, NY-
based firm. He adds: “At a certain point beginning a few years
ago, we all discovered Punch. And once it entered, it replaced
bottle service; Punch is ideal for a shared experience.”
One of Cuffs & Buttons’ clients, Laird & Company—
America’s oldest family-owned distillery, dating back to the
1600s and famed for its line of applejack brandies—has seen
its overall sales turbo-charged thanks to the country’s Punch
revival. Cuffs & Buttons created “The Spirit of ’76,” which fea-
tures Laird’s Bonded Straight Apple Brandy, and its popularity
helped the company’s sales jump by an astonishing 25% in the
last three years, says Lisa Laird-Dunn, VP and ninth-generation
member in the Scobeyville, NJ-based firm. She adds, “In the
last six years, Punch has really taken off; it is a natural transi-
tion from classic cocktails to Punches.”
At Bar TNT in Arlington, VA, co-owner and bartender Todd
Thrasher, says, “We serve a fresh-made Punch every day during
and after Happy Hour.” During Happy Hour, Bar TNT charges
$4 for a six-ounce serving; afterwards, $8. Thrasher reports, since
the first day Bar TNT opened, during Happy Hour, “Punch ac-
counts for about half our sales; it’s a big, big seller.” Thrasher
and his partner also operate five other restaurants and bars in the
northern Virginia region, and all of them feature Punch.
John Gersten, general manager at Drink in Boston, MA,
notes that Punch is the ideal drink to offer as guests turn up
for a special party or a private event. Says Gersten: “We try to
have guests get a glass of punch as soon as they arrive. It takes
a little pressure off the bartenders, plus it is a really great way to
get people to mingle and talk.” Gersten has served such historic
Punches as Philadelphia Fish House Punch, Regent’s Punch
and Drink’s signature Sons of Liberty Punch.
The Fish House Punch is a classic recipe, and interested
bartenders may find it and many others in Jerry’s Thomas’s
How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant’s Companion
. This
ground-breaking book was originally published in 1862 and it
is widely considered the first serious American book on cock-
tails and Punches by drinks historians. (The book is available
in reprint at amazon.com)
punch
Time-Saving & Convivial,
Big-Batch Concoctions Inspire
Bartenders & Please Patrons
By David Lincoln Ross
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