Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Punch and Duty

(The Sterling Punch Bowl from the USS North Carolina via Replacements.com)
The Sterling Punch Bowl from the USS North Carolina via Replacements.com

I’ve always felt it my duty as host to provide substantial quantities of drink to my guests. Much rather have too much than too little and have to live with those accusatory stares and clinking of ice cubes in empty glasses.

But the times call for a modicum of financial restraint. Our New Year’s Eve (anniversary) party will still go on, but without help to mix drinks and pass the hors d’oeuvres. It’ll be “summer rules” at the bar and I will rely on the kindness of a couple of our guests to help me keep the champagne glasses filled for the 80 or so of our friends. That’s a lot of bubble.

How do you feel about punch?

Back in the ivy-covered days, “champagne” punch was a staple at my New Year’s Eve parties. I use the term “champagne,” but it really wasn’t. We couldn’t really get champagne inexpensive enough for me to serve and good enough to drink. This was in the days before cava was widely available. New York State “champagne” was the base for my punch. Good old Great Western. Nobody seemed to mind too much. Under the Sauterne, lemon sherbert and frozen orange juice ring who could tell?

My tastes have changed a bit, and thankfully, so have the budgets for the festivities. But I wonder if serving a proper punch might not be such a bad idea? Would you?

1 part Scotch
1 part gin
2 parts champagne
ice cubes

* from Kingsley Amis’ Everyday Drinking, this punch is a translation into booze of the lyrics of a Cab Calloway song that was popular in the 30’s. The drink was apparently a bit hit at Oxford during those halcyon days.

Bombay Punch (from The Savoy Cocktail Book)
1 quart Brandy
1 quart Sherry
1/4 pint Maraschino
1/4 pint Orange Curaçao
4 quarts Champagne
2 quarts carbonated water.

Stir gently. Surround Punch Bowl with cracked ice and decorate with fruits in season.

I think I’ll stick to whiskey, neat, Martinis, dry, and crèmant, Brut. But only because I lack a magnificent sterling silver punch bowl like the one above.

13 thoughts on “Punch and Duty

  1. Should you need a punchbowl the size of a small swimming pool, I have one to lend… We got it out of the Naval Reserve Club in DC when i was doing salvage. It holds about five gallons!

  2. I’m married to a bubble fanatic, so while everyone else is sleeping off the New Year’s festivities she has us out with a cart filled with marked-down bubbly. The punch recipes may just make me a bit more excited about the bubble hunt this year.

  3. Don’t you just love Amis’ description of why he offers punches to his friends???

    You have to have a punch at a party because you just have to have a punch. Even a bad punch is a liquid centerpiece.

    I have a great punch bowl that looks like half a golf ball in pewter with elk heads all around the top. It is Nordic as heck and I usually use it for glog or wassail.


  4. What an extrordinary punch bowl, with it’s own candelabra, and I’m guessing from the Victorian era. Dry martinis sound just the stuff, but one has to remember Dorothy Parker’s warning about them, and indeed the other tale: martinis are like breasts; one is not enough, and three are too many.

  5. I used to go to a holiday party with a wonderful “punch” called French 75, named after a WWI cannon. The recipe is 3 parts (bottles) champagne to one part brandy. A little goes a long way esp. if you are driving!

  6. ELW, I mix ’em up by the glass with leftover bubble after a big party.

    Columnist, Eighteen-Ought-Something (’02?) it was commissioned. And Bogart’s reputed last words… “I never shoulda switched to martinis…)

    Mr. Lane, I hadn’t thought of punch in strictly visual terms… hmmm. Form and function…

  7. Do fancy a glass {or two} of punch at holiady parties — it’s really quite festive.

    {p.s.} fantastically over-the-top sterling 🙂

  8. My favorite punch has always been a traditional planters punch, or following the Bajan rhyme: “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.” Using those proportions, respectively, of fresh lime juice, sugar syrup, gold/amber rum, and plain water/ice, accompanied with splashes of Angostura & lime wedges; its a beach party in a glass.

    “Boat drinks! Boys in the band ordered boat drinks.”

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