Three Gentlemen Making a Bowl of Punch
You may talk of brisk claret, sing praises of sherry;
Speak well of old hock, mum, cider, and perry;
But you must drink punch if you mean to be merry.
A bowl of this liquor the gods being all at,
Though good we should know it by way of new ballad,
As fit for both ours and their Highnesses’ palate.
(Purcell, Blow, & Walsh, ca. 1730)
Open just about any book written in English between the late 1600s and the mid-1800s that deals with daily life, more than likely someone is going to make or consume a bowl of punch. For almost 200 years, punch reigned as the mixed drink of choice in the English-speaking world.
The Origins of Punch
No one really knows, nor are we ever likely to decide who concocted the first bowl of punch. Many people of an etymological bent are of the common belief that the word ‘punch’ can be traced to the old Hindustani “paunch” meaning five, a reference to the five classes of ingredients in punch recipes; distilled spirits, water, sugar, citrus, and spices. Sustaining this interpretation is that there are many references to punch in the East India Trading Company’s correspondence, and the reports of travelers to their factories (the period word for trading posts) on the Indian subcontinent. The earliest English reference to punch is found in a letter sent on September 28, 1632 by Robert Addams, one of the companies men-at-arms wishing Thomas Colley, a factor, good luck on an upcoming trip to Bengal. Addams wrote, Continue reading