Punch (drink)

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Southern Bourbon Punch.jpg
Southern Bourbon Punch
TypeMixed drink
Standard drinkwareOften served in a punch bowl with punch glasses.
Commonly used ingredientsUsually fruit juices and other drink mixers, optionally with alcohol.
PreparationVaries widely. Many prepared mixes are available.
Punch bowl and stand, made at the Meissen factory, Germany, 1770, Victoria and Albert Museum no. C.37&A-1960[1]

Punch is the term for a wide assortment of drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, generally containing fruit or fruit juice.[2] The drink was introduced from India to England in the early seventeenth century; from there its use spread to other countries.[3] Punch is typically served at parties in large, wide bowls, known as punch bowls.


The word punch is a loanword from Hindi panch (meaning five) and the drink was originally made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices.[4][5] The original drink was named paantsch.

The drink was brought to England from India by sailors and employees of the British East India Company in the early seventeenth century. From there it was introduced into other European countries. When served communally, the drink is expected to be of a lower alcohol content than a typical cocktail.[3][6]

The term punch was first recorded in British documents in 1632. At the time, most punches were of the Wassail type made with a wine or brandy base. But around 1655, Jamaican rum came into use and the 'modern' punch was born. By 1671, documents make references to punch houses[citation needed].

Today, soft drink manufacturers distribute many types of "fruit punch" beverages. These are usually red colored drinks. Despite the name, most brands contain only a small fraction of actual fruit juice, the major constituents being sugar or corn syrup, citric acid, and artificial flavors.



Non-alcoholic varieties, which are especially given to children as well as adults who do not drink, typically include a mix of some fruit drink such as juice, water, and a sweetener like sugar.

Southern Bourbon Punch

A drink closely associated with the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the southern U.S. Sweet bourbon punch is made with sweet tea (a southern signature drink), citrus flavors, and bourbon.[7] Bourbon is named for Bourbon County, Kentucky, and each year during the Kentucky Derby, recipes for bourbon punch abound.


Another type of punch, traditionally served before the departure of a hunting party in England, but now served at a variety of social events such as garden parties, cricket, tennis matches, and picnics, cups are generally lower in alcohol content than other punches and usually use wine, cider, sloe gin, or liqueurs as the base. They often include quantities of fruit juices or soft drinks. One well known cup is the Pimm's Cup, using Pimm's №1 and British-style lemonade at a ratio of 1:2; a squeeze of lemon; then add orange, lemon and apple slices; a couple of cucumber wedges; and decorate with borage flowers.

Rum punches

There are several rum-based punches: Planter's Punch, Bajan Rum Punch, Caribbean Rum Punch, and others. The two most historical rum punches are the Planter's Punch and Bajan Rum Punch.

Bajan (Barbadian) Rum Punch is one of the oldest rum punches and has a simple recipe enshrined in a national rhyme: "One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak." That is: one part lime juice, two parts sweetener, three parts rum (preferably Barbados), and four parts water. It is served with a dash or two of Angostura bitters and nutmeg.

The recipe of Planter's Punch varies, containing some combination of rum, lemon juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, orange juice, grenadine, soda water, curaçao, Angostura bitters, and cayenne pepper.[8]

The first known print reference to Planter's Punch was in the August 8, 1908 edition of The New York Times:

Gentlemen enjoying punch in about 1765, by William Hogarth


This recipe I give to thee,

Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —

I know whereof I speak.

Around the world

Fruit punch

Punches are extremely common among parties for college and university students. These punches tend to be highly alcoholic and made with cheap ingredients. Some even exclude water altogether and have 30% alcohol by volume (ABV) or more.

Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean countries

Punch is an apéritif.


Sujeonggwa is a traditional punch made from dried persimmons, cinnamon, and ginger.


Agua loca ("crazy water") is a very sweet punch usually made from fermented sugarcane, mezcal or tequila mixed with "aguas frescas" (usually agua de Jamaica or horchata). Due to its sweetness, the drinker may not taste the alcohol and become intoxicated more quickly than anticipated. This drink is popular on college campuses as an inexpensive means of becoming intoxicated.[citation needed].


Punch (Punsch in German) refers to a mixture of several fruit juices and spices, often with wine or liquor added. Punch is popular in Germany and with many Germans who emigrated to America. The traditional German Christmas often includes a Feuerzangenbowle ("Burnt Punch" or, literally, "Fire Tongs Bowl"). This is a punch made from red wine and flaming rum, poured over a Zuckerhut ("sugar hat"), a large conical sugar cube placed in the "Feuerzange".

Commercial brands

A number of beverage manufacturers produce punches, either as nonalcoholic mixers or as soft drinks. Hawaiian Punch and Hi-C are two of the better known brands in the US. Other related drinks include the Kool-Aid powdered drink mix, and Tiki Punch, a carbonated soft drink from Shasta.

See also


  1. ^ "Punch bowl and Stand". Metalwork. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  2. ^ Punch at dictionary.com
  3. ^ a b Edwards, Graham and Sue. The Language of Drink, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1988.
  4. ^ Loanwords
  5. ^ Punch at the Online Etymology Dictionary
  6. ^ "A Vintage Cocktail That Packs A Punch", NPR, December 30, 2010, with 3 vintage recipes
  7. ^ Sweet Bourbon Punch Recipe
  8. ^ David Wondrich (2004). Esquire Drinks. Hearst Books. p. 192. ISBN 1-58816-205-2.