gin punch

Gin punch: a giant cocktail served in a bowl

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

We all like a cocktail. But 200 years before the term was invented, we had to resort to other creative ways of getting our alcohol fix. In those days, there were no cocktail glasses, fancy recipes or bartender’s tools in those days – so they turned to punch! In its earliest days, in the 18th century, a typical punch would contain ingredients that were considered exotic for the time. Often, these would include fruits that seem normal to us now, but which were extremely rare and expensive three centuries ago.
These included rare treats such as oranges from Asia, fragrant spices from the East and sugar, all the way from the Caribbean, which became the perfect match for the strong flavours of rum and brandy. The trouble was that rum and brandy were very expensive. On the other hand, English gin was increasingly affordable. It wasn’t long before gin became recognised as a better value concoction than some of its contemporary spirits and that was when it entered the mainstream world of punch.

A drink for the middle classes

The relative accessibility and affordability of gin quickly made punch more accessible to the burgeoning English middle classes.
However, strangely enough, the 18th century reveals no published gin punch recipes at all. According to a contemporaneous journal, “a hornful of punch should be administered to cattle in a bid to cure their distemper”. This is a clear indication that in those early days punch was initially considered something of low quality and not of much use to actual humans. However, towards the end of the 18th century, reports of its human medicinal qualities began to appear alongside suggestions that it could help to treat a variety of ailments. Gin Punch was soon believed to be a cure-all for everything from dissolving kidney stones, to curing Berri-Berri. It was also (bizarrely) considered a great way to encourage toxins to leave the body efficiently, in the form of sweat.

1776: the punch revolution

In 1776, at around the same time as the American’s were plotting their revolution, diarist James Boswell wrote (after a particularly good night on the town) that he: “drank rather too much gin punch. It was a new experience to me and I liked it much”.
By the end of the 18th century gin punch had elevated itself from its humble position at the heart of the local gin palace, into something more fitting. This elevation made it suitable for the more sophisticated and rarified atmosphere of London’s gentleman’s clubs. Stalwarts such as the Garrick or Limmer’s Hotel became the places that finally established punch as a popular and respectable, middle class drink. In fact, one of the first gin recipes at the turn of the 18th century, sounds rather nice (but very strong):
two pints of gin, oranges, lemons, orange sugar syrup and white wine.

Punch goes upmarket

A few decades later, London’s Garrick Club added a new twist to its own “house punch” – soda water. The original Garrick Club Punch recipe called for:

half a pint of gin, lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar, maraschino, a pint and a quarter of water and two bottles of iced soda water.

It didn’t take very long for its fame to spread around London and before you know it, punches and punch bowls were popping up everywhere. Over time, these punches evolved into more complex single serve variants which were popularised by Americans in the 1870s. They gave them personal names such as the John Collins and the classic Tom Collins. By the end of the century, punch had been truly established in English culture and English Dry Gin had become a mainstay of many of the best punches. But why is punch served in a punch bowl?

Why is punch served in a bowl?

It’s simple, really. As strong punch loosened inhibitions, it helped reserved Englishmen come out of their shell. It helped them to add a little well-lubricated wit to social gatherings, political discussions and business occasions. Drinking punch was always a fabulous social occasion and gathering around the punch bowl ended up becoming the popular focus for many a high spirited evening, loosening inhibitions and encouraging conviviality, conversation and sharing in a way that had never been seen before.

From simple punch bowl to sophisticated cocktails

These days, punches have fallen out of fashion, but that’s a real shame since these simple-to-make, sociable drinks can be a lot of fun. And they can be deceptively strong. Over the years, people’s tastes evolved once more and the simple punch bowl morphed slowly into the next big alcoholic fad in the 19th century – cocktails. Bartenders began to mix drinks to suit their specific customers and the approach to alcohol became increasingly bespoke and sophisticated. Now, the cocktail is definitely king – of that there is no doubt. But there are still some great gin punches out there – and it would be a great shame to let this fabulously simple tradition die out. Check out our recent article on a classic New Year’s Eve punch. And here’s another variant on the gin punch for when the weather gets a bit better.

Gin Punch recipe

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Cut and combine all the fruits into a large punchbowl
  2. Add the gin, juice, syrups, creme de framboise (or alternative fruit liqueur) and water
  3. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours
  4. Before serving: add ice, fill to top with cava and stir
  5. Ladle into punch glasses with plenty of fruit (and ice)
  6. Repeat frequently!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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happy new year with a gin punch

Adiós, 2020. This year, we’re getting punch drunk!

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Congratulations. You are a survivor. You’ve just made it through one of the most challenging years in living memory and that in itself is quite an achievement. It’s been tough, many of us have not been so lucky. We’ve been separated from our families, isolated from our communities and normal life has been put on hold until this virus has been beaten. So, in a year where it doesn’t seem like we have a lot to celebrate, there is one thing we know we can raise a glass of gin punch to – the start of 2021!

Keeping your spirits up

And while we recognise that this New Year’s Eve will be a slightly more modest affair than usual and the big parties have been put on hold, there is still every reason to keep your spirits up with a few gin-based drinks. We’ve already introduced you to the delights of the Spanish 75 (a twist on the French 75 using cava instead of champagne for a smoother, better balanced drink).

Get the party going with a gin punch!

We also mentioned that we’d be sharing a gin punch recipe for New Year’s Eve that is easy to make, deceptively strong and gets the party off to a quick start. Plus, it has the added advantage of eliminating the need to constantly go back and make fresh drinks. Just make a big batch in advance and dip in whenever you need a refill. So, after some exhaustive research, here’s a really easy and delicious gin punch recipe that is guaranteed to get the party going. With only around 200 Kcals per glass, this recipe will serve 8 people and can be rustled up in as little as 10 minutes. It is fruity, spicy and strong and the gentle heat of the ginger beer along with the sweetness of the pomegranate gives it a lovely, warming winter feel – just right for New Year’s Eve.

Easy to make, easy to scale!

Plus, it can easily be scaled up by doubling (or tripling) the ingredients. All you need is a bigger bowl. We think this recipe lends itself to a Twisted Nose gin. This Hampshire-gin is distilled with the gentle warmth of locally grown watercress for a little extra peppery depth. We think this is the perfect way to dial up the flavour this New Year’s Eve – and we’re pretty sure that after a few of these, you’ll be dancing at midnight. Just make sure you’re socially distanced!!

Happy 2021, gin lovers – you deserve the best!

Gin punch recipe

Ingredients:

  • 400g of gin (Twisted Nose will work well with this)
  • 180ml Chambord (or raspberry liqueur)
  • 160ml pomegranate juice
  • 4tbsp ginger sugar syrup (from a jar of stem ginger)
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 limes (plus extra wedges)
  • 320ml (or more) to taste of chilled, peppery ginger beer (we recommend Fentimans or Fever Tree)

Method:

  • Half fill a punch bowl with ice.
  • Pour in the gin, Chambord, Pomegranate juice, ginger syrup and lime juice.
  • Then stir, before adding a few more lime wedges
  • Top up with ginger beer (add as much as you like to achieve your preferred taste)
  • Ladle the drink into 8 punch glasses or heavy tumblers
  • Make sure everyone gets loads of ice
  • Garnish with a lime zest
Gin punch



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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  • Smoky ice cubes: are they really a thing?
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