Friday, May 10, 2013

The Punch Bowl: 75 Recipes Spanning Four Centuries

A mixture history and recipe book for punches, The Punch Bowl by Dan Searing provides authoritative notes on classic favorites with color photos throughout.

Dan Searing knows his punches. He's the co-owner of Room 11 in D.C. featuring cocktails, fun food, and desserts, and his book, The Punch Bowl, gives readers a taste of different punches from different eras. The book is enhanced by Elise Abrams' collection of antique punch bowls, ladles, punch cups, and other ceramics including a Tom & Jerry set.

Where does punch come from? According to the book, it comes from a Hindustani word for five, for five elements are needed for punch: sweet, sour, water, spice, and alcohol. The punch bowl's shape shows the different ways it was drunk throughout history. In the 1600s it was appropriate to drink from a common bowl so for much of that time period the punch bowls were simple, round vessels that were passed around. Over the years punch became a celebratory beverage and punch bowls were often given as gifts with some being very elaborate and highly decorative serving pieces.

Recommended for Readers Looking for Both Recipes and Punch Making Tips

The Punch Bowl is divided into three sections: The World of Punch, Punch Recipes, and Punch Resources. It is in the first section where all the great tips reside. Dan Searing's first tips are to use high-quality ingredients, such quality liquors and fresh fruits and herbs. If purchasing juices for a punch recipe, use naturally sweetened or those with no added sugars. Many recipes call for freshly brewed tea, and not all tea is brewed for the same amount of time. His "tea time and temps" chart has brewing guidelines for black, green, oolong, white, and herbal teas.

And how much punch do you make in the first place? Dan has that covered, too, with the section How Much to Make. When figuring out how much punch to make for any occasion, think about the function and how much you think the guests will drink. He gives a handy calculator so you can estimate how much to make, and his recipes have been calculated as one serving being a 4 to 6 ounce cup of punch. Using that knowledge, the recipe below will serve 24 6-ounce glasses, or 36 4-ounce glasses.

There are many different types of punch recipes, each separated by either the alcohol or main ingredient: rum, bourbon and whiskey, brandy, gin, wine, Champagne, milk, and tea. Of the 75 in the book, 50 recipes are classic ones from historical sources and 25 are original recipes from popular bartenders around the U.S., so they run the gamut of old to new. All recipes have some sort of alcoholic beverage as an ingredient.

Recipe: Hot Mulled Apple Cider and Brandy Punch

Apple brandy, also known as Applejack, is the oldest liquor made in the United States. Sadly, there is only one major distributor of Applejack left, Laird’s, but happily, their product is terrific. Small local distilleries producing apple brandy do exist, and you can always use the legendary French apple brandy, Calvados, as a substitute.

This recipe makes enough for 24 to 36 servings.

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 2 cups apple brandy
  • 12 to 15 orange slices (about 1 orange)
  • 12 to 15 apple wedges (about 1 apple)
  1. Put the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods in a square of cheesecloth, and tie the ends closed with kitchen twine.
  2. Put the cider in a saucepan set over medium heat, and add the bag of spices. Heat the cider until it just begins to simmer.
  3. Remove the pan from the stove, and pour the punch into a punch bowl. Add 1 cup of the apple brandy to the punch; taste the punch and add more apple brandy, if desired. Remove the packet of spices, garnish with orange slices and apple wedges, and serve.

Book Information:

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Punch Bowl © 2010 by Dan Searing, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions expressed are my own.

Renee Shelton


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