How To: Punch

Poolclub's 'Clamorous' punch

The flowing bowl’s return to favour

By Simon McGoram

Presented by Trevor Schneider, Pool Club, Sydney



Trevor Schneider is on placement at the Merivale group assisting with training and bringing a different perspective to the craft in Merivale bars. A super talented bartender with enormous experience, Trevor has worked for 10 years in bars in New York. Last year Trevor brought his talents and charming personality to bars across France, New Orleans and most recently, Sydney Australia.

Photography by Rob Palmer

As with any yarn involving the demon drink, an accurate account of Punch’s early life has long been washed away by the high tides of merriment and low tides of memory loss paired with the debilitating affects of hard living. Despite it’s sketchy past, interest in the lost art of Punch making is returning to bars the world over. Coupled with an authoritative work on the subject by drinks historian David Wondrich and you mightn’t be wrong in assuming that Punch is seeing a full blown comeback.

Unfortunately even Wondrich admits that lesser mixes given the handle of ‘punch’ (which he differentiates with a lower case spelling), are not to be taken seriously as delivery systems for beverage alcohol, and have been publicity disaster for Punches worthy of the title. You’ve probably come across these lesser mixes at student parties before. Rife with cheap hooch and a random selection of mixes she’s not the sort of beverage you’d want to introduce to your parents. Real Punch, on the other-hand, could be considered the perfect lady – polite enough to impress your mother, but with a wild side that certainly won’t leave you bored. Yep, she’s not bad for a lass that’s almost 400 years old to boot.

“Despite it’s sketchy past, interest in the lost art of Punch making is returning to bars the world over.”

Indeed, the earliest written reference to Punch as a drink has been traced to September 28, 1632 from a letter sent from the Coromandel Coast, India to another English outpost. As with the Cocktail, it was several years before a description of Punch’s contents were revealed. The first description appeared in 1638 when one Johan Albert de Mandelslo, a young German adventurer, washed up at the East India Company’s factory in Surat. There, Wondrich tells us in his new book entitled Punch, “he found the factors irrigating themselves with “a kind of drink consisting of aqua vitae, rose-water; juice of citrons and sugar.” Mandelslo called the beverage palenpuntz which translates as ‘bowl o’ Punch’.

In 1676 John Fryer, an English physician working for the Company, gave us this erudite description in one of his letters home from India:

At Nerule [Nerul, just outside Goa] is made the best Arach [sic]… with which the English on this coast make that enervating Liquor called Paunch (which is Indostan for Five) from Five Ingredients; as the Physicians name their Composition Diapente; or from four thing, Diatesseron.

Wondirch tells us that Fryer’s letters were published in 1698 and that ever since that time “his offhand remark as had the force of a holy writ”. And so it is held to this day that a classic Punch has five ingredients – spirit, citrus juice, sugar, water and spice – except when it doesn’t.

It was from this basic recipe that the single serve Sling and Toddy was developed in America during the 1800s. Now in the 21st Century we seem to have come full circle with a desire to serve shared beverages once more and it has already reached mainstream consumers. Even Martha Stewart has recently had a Punch feature on her television spot featuring our very own Naren Young (seriously – check it out here!)

Modern Punches, like Pool Club’s Clamorous featured here, might contain much more that five ingredients (especially when you count ice and garnishes), but they do have the benefit of not having a long preparation time. Indeed this beauty made and served in bespoke clamshell vessels that have been designed exclusively for Pool Club, can be made to order in minutes. Mike Enright, Merivale’s Group Bars Manager has been responsible for bringing this unique shell concept to Pool Club which manages to blend the retro vibe of 1950s St Tropez with this latest drink-sharing trend.

“It has taken 12 months from the first initial idea to completion,” explains Enright, “so I’m pleased to see them selling and in action at Pool Club this summer.”


210ml Belvedere Orange Vodka
70ml Hennessey VS Cognac
140ml Crème de Peche
210ml Passionfruit puree
210ml Cloudy apple juice
60ml Elderflower cordial
1 Bottle of Veuve Cliquot Champagne

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G'n'Tea'd PunchG’n’Tea’d Punch
(Serves 4)

120ml Jasmine Tea infused Plymouth Gin
60ml Massenez Pomme Verte
60ml Crème de Peche
40ml Sugar Syrup
120ml Pink Grapefruit Juice
20 Mint Leaves

Pour all ingredients into a Punch bowl over cubed ice and stir. Garnish with mint sprigs and grapefruit zest.

The Den, Ivy, Sydney

Canadian PunchCanadian Punch
(Serves 15)

1 ½ pints (approximately 700ml) Rittenhouse 100 proof Straight Rye Whiskey
½ pint (approximately 250ml) ‘Pirate Juice’ (use and aromatic rum like Holey Dollar Gold Coin)
3 lemons, sliced
1/2 pineapple, sliced
3 pints water (approximately 1.5 litres)
¾ cup white sugar

Infuse the fruit in the spirits for six hours without squeezing. Dissolve the sugar in the 3 pints of water and combine with the spirit and fruit mix. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve with a large block of ice.

Recipe adapted from Punch by David Wondrich

punch-coverPunch Pundit

David Wondrich, who had a whirlwind tour of Australia last year thanks to the team at Mixxit, has released his long awaited prequel to Imbibe!. Punch, as the work is entitled, takes a look at the history of this age old mixed drink – the granddaddy of the cocktail and great granddaddy of modern mixology. It’s written in Wondrich’s witty and entertaining style with his usual mindboggling amount of research. You can purchase it online today.

If you didn’t get the chance to see Wondrich on his last Aussie tour you’re in luck – Bartender magazine has been saving their pennies to bring this world leading drinks historian down-under for Sydney BarShow 2011. Visit the new website for further updates.

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