The craft cock­tail world is em­brac­ing — and el­e­vat­ing — the once-ju­ve­nile punch bowl. Here’s why you should, too

Sharp - - CONTENTS WINTER 2018 - By Eric Mutrie


Punch is mak­ing a come­back, and just in time for the hol­i­days.

ABUSTLING HOL­I­DAY PARTY is no time to play bar­tender. In­stead, mix one drink in bulk and put it in your big­gest bowl next to a la­dle and some cups. There’s a name for this con­coc­tion: punch. But to make sure yours is more than just a scape­goat for ev­ery­one’s hang­overs, fol­low the lead of a new crop of bars serv­ing com­mu­nal cock­tails that boast both po­tency and pol­ish.

One in­dus­try shaker and stir­rer drink­ing the al­co­holic Kool-aid is Stu­art Knap­man, the bar man­ager at The Cloak in Toronto. While he ad­mits that punch “lost its way” when it be­came a trade­mark of rowdy stu­dent par­ties, he posits that it ac­tu­ally has far more so­phis­ti­cated ori­gins. Dat­ing back to 16th-cen­tury In­dia, punch is thought to get its name from the San­skrit word for five, a ref­er­ence to its five key el­e­ments: al­co­hol, sugar, cit­rus, wa­ter, and spices. If ex­e­cuted cor­rectly, this bal­ance of flavours gives the brew broad ap­peal.

An­other ben­e­fit of punch’s com­mu­nal na­ture: it be­comes a shared ex­pe­ri­ence. As Knap­man points out, that helps ev­ery­one to bond, “es­pe­cially at a party of dis­tant rel­a­tives or dif­fer­ent friend groups.” He sees the drink’s uni­fy­ing pow­ers on dis­play ev­ery time some­one or­ders one of The Cloak’s punch bowls. “Ev­ery other ta­ble in the bar quickly says, ‘We want one of those, too.’” In other words: best to triple his recipe to an­tic­i­pate de­mand.

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