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Issue 60 - Packing a punch

Whisky Magazine Issue 60
November 2006


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Packing a punch

Ian Wisniewski looks at the story behind this versatile cocktail

Offering supreme versatility, punch can cater for various tastes, while a punch bowl provides a natural focal point for guests to gather around. By serving punch rather than a choice of drinks, hosts avoid spending time catering for individual preferences. As guests can serve themselves, hosts are free to circulate and generate the atmosphere, rather than filling glasses.

As one of the most international drinks, there are plenty of punch recipes to choose from, including hot and cold versions. Various spirits have their own repertoire of punches, which can be accessorised with fruit (as appropriate), in order to be decorative as well as practical. Providing so many advantages for the host, and being so user-friendly for guests, it's even more shocking that punch should be subjected to any type of abuse. Why is it that a mixed drink, particularly if prepared on a larger scale for a more extensive guest list, can promote a particular mentality ?

Some hosts think they can get away with combining ingredients of an average quality, as though the act of mixing somehow results in the ingredients transcending themselves.

Adding fresh fruit to certain punches can also serve as a ‘decoy,' encouraging guests to think the recipe was composed with more exacting standards. But you only get out of a recipe what you put in, so compromising on ingredients inevitably affects the result. How could it all have gone so wrong ?

The earliest punches were mixed by British colonials working for...

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