The tablescape is set in festive fashion, the lighting and music are at perfect mood-warming levels, and the serving vessel and accessories are ready for a batch of crowd-pleasing drinks that pack a certain . . . what’s the word?
Punch goes all the way back to the seventeenth century, when during an expedition in Surat, India, members of the British East India Company made one magnificent medley out of what we now know as its traditional five components: spirit, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spice. Eventually, this easy-to-remember formula was adapted as a solution to an ongoing problem of theirs: the beer-spoiling temperatures of the Indian Ocean. Remarkably, that first-ever punch came about for many of the same reasons it remains a staple today—it’s a cost-effective, convenient, and communal way to serve delicious drinks to large groups of people.
Punch has come a long way since the era of ladling rations for a throng of thirsty sailors. Charles Dickens famously boasted of his rendition, which likely swung through many a literary parlor in the mid-1800s. And when the first bar manuals were published by Harry Johnson, Richard Cook, Jerry Thomas, and others, there were more than a few punches making an appearance on their pages. In the modern era, it’s an equally familiar sight, whether in the beachy and rum-soaked style or in the spirituous dance fuel served up on college campuses. There have been an incredible variety of punch bowls through time and around the world, yet their impact is surprisingly a constant: a cheerful and merry atmosphere created and connections with friends and family deepened.
Party Punch: Bourbon & Bubbles is making its way through the workshop to arrive right on time for your upcoming schedule of holiday celebrations. With rich, oaky bourbon and effervescent sparkling wine as their foundation, the three classy and nuanced concoctions soar from there, taking the traditional five segments of flavor and expanding on them in delightfully surprising ways. Subscribe now through November 30th to get yours—it’ll ship the week of December 2nd.
Set out Trevor Frye’s Pugno Risorto, have a sip, and witness a rise in spirits and smiles in real time. At the heart of this bright and warmly spiced punch is a cranberry shrub that plays off of the fruit’s natural tartness with sugar and apple cider vinegar, providing a pop of flavor that brings out the best in bourbon and sparkling wine. Once that initial pleasurable hit washes over you, the bright botanical and floral complexity of lemon zinger herbal tea and cherry bark vanilla bitters emerges. Keep rolling with this punch and revitalize all over again!
A fifteen-year veteran of the restaurant and bar industry, Trevor has worked in practically every facet of the Washington, DC, restaurant and bar industry, which has led to numerous awards and accolades both locally and nationally. He currently serves as the President of Wash Line, LLC, and is a Spirited Awards Judge for Tales of the Cocktail and an educator at conferences across the country.
There comes a point in Act II of The Nutcracker when the appearance of the Sugar Plum Fairy ushers in an enchanting parade of delightful delicacies from around the world—and we like to think of this Pleased As Plum Punch from Stacey Swenson as doing the same. Rich and woody rooibos tea, originally from South Africa, mixes with good ol’ Kentucky bourbon and sophisticated European sparkling wine to provide a harmonious and bright setting for another key player, the spiced poached plum syrup. It delivers the wintry wonders of cinnamon, clove, and star anise, along with vanilla and perfectly ripe plums, to complete the punch that will easily claim center stage at your holiday table.
Formerly head bartender at NYC’s Dante, Stacey has moved on to a new role as bar manager at the newly opened Bar Pisellino. She also heads up creative drinks strategies for Simple Serve and was named StarChefs Rising Star bartender of 2019.
It isn’t as sweet as pie, but Robert Sickler’s Fireside Festivity offers up a few winks and nods to the wonderful world of holiday desserts. For a post-meal treat, skip that second slice and turn instead to the punch he’s calling “a true symphony of the season.” Note how the spiced pear cordial balances the crispness of the sparkling wine and the robust cardamom extract links up with the woody notes of the bourbon. You’ll also detect the delectable accents of holiday pie bitters, which feature apple, pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, and aromatics. With the fire roaring and this punch flowing, raise your glass to peak cozy warmth with a kick!
A lifelong veteran of the drinks industry, Robert is currently co-owner and beverage director at Finn’s Manor, a cocktail bar and food truck pod in Denver. He is also a licensed instructor of the Whisky Ambassador Course, the world’s first accredited whisky training program.
It’s so easy to mix up these punches that you’ll be able to spend less of the night behind the bar and more of it mingling at your next gathering. Naughty or nice (we don’t discriminate), just make sure your name is on the list to close out the year right with Party Punch: Bourbon & Bubbles!
The Shaker & Spoon Team
*not vegan: honey