A children friendly punch recipe foun in “The New Sealtest Book
of Recipes and Menus” published by Sealtest Inc in 1940
It’s strange how our perception of images change over time.
Seen with 1940 eyes that man was obviously meant to look like
a friendly old uncle. Seen with 2017 eyes I wouldn’t have left
my children alone with him for more than 5 seconds.
It’s the chosen summer drink of thousands of thirsty kids every day, and the chosen rum-based tipple of Charles Dickens himself. You’ll find it in tiny boxes, straws included, or in an overflowing bowl heaped with green sherbet at a retro ladies’ luncheon. The beverage, of course, is punch, and it’s come a long way since British sailors first concocted it in the 17th century. Let’s take a look at the history of punch from rum-filled grog to Hawaiian.
Though it’s mainly known as a non-alcoholic beverage today, punch was invented as a beer alternative in the 17th century by men working the ships for the British East India Company. These men were accomplished drinkers, throwing back an allotment of 10 pints of beer per shipman per day. But when the ships reached the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean, the beer held in cargo bays grew rancid and flat. Once the boats reached the shore, sailors created new drinks out of the ingredients indigenous to their destinations: rum, citrus and spices.
The sailors brought punch back to Britain and soon the drink became a party staple, spreading even as far as the American colonies. Massive punch bowls were ubiquitous at gatherings in the summer months: the founding fathers drank 76 of them at the celebration following the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It’s around this time that the first mention of non-alcoholic punches appears, specifically made for ladies and children.
By the Victorian Age, those teetotalling punches ruled the day. Queen Victoria disapproved of strong drink, so alcoholic punches gradually fell out of favor. Frothy egg white-based and sherbet versions grew popular, and continued to be served to ladies who lunched until the 1950s. By that time, cocktail culture was in full effect, and it was socially acceptable for women to drink in public. Punch was relegated to the footnotes of history, only to be resurrected in the 2000s by mustachioed mixologists in cities like New York and San Francisco.
A classic punch recipe found in “MENU – Internationalt Madleksikon” (MENU – International Food Encyclopedia) published by Lademann in 1976
I don’t know about you, but around my neck of the woods it’s getting rather cold. Autumn is creeping steadily towards winter and hot beverages, with or without alcohol are certainy the order of the day. This Swedish punch is usually served during Christmas, but don’t let that stop you from making a batch right now. You can always make more for Christmas – Ted 😉
Hotteok is a popular Korean street food eaten during the winter months. The yeasted dough is filled with sugar, cinnamon and nuts, flattened and cooked until crisp. Sujeonggwa is a traditional, cold fruit punch scented with ginger, cinnamon and persimmon.
A strong Danish Christmas coffee punch from “MENU Juleretter” (MENU Christmas Dishes) published by Lademann in 1976
Few people in this world drink more coffee than Scandinavians. Norwegians are No 2 in the world, only beaten by the Fins. In Norway this has among other things to do with a very strong religious temperance movement in the late 19th and early 20th century. Vast quantities of coffee is still consumed in the different Houses of Prayers around the country and numerous local coffee shops can save the rest of us if the coffee hunger should hit us out of doors.
With a relation to coffee like this it is now wonder that coffee have a large place in our Christmas traditions as well and to day I’m posting to different Christmas recipes where coffee plays a major role.
A classic Danish Christmas punch found in “MENU –Juleretter” (Menu – Christmas Dishes) published by Lademann in 1976.
Punch, both served cold and hot has long traditions in Scandinavia both for Christmas and for other festive occasions. This recipe is for a cold punch, but back before modern heating when the houses were hard to keep warm during the winter cold, hot punches were more common around Christmas.
Punch was of course a beverage enjoyed among the well to do upper classes. Working people, farmhands and such made do with beer and aquavit during Christmas. And to be honest, so do I 😉
Here’s a classic punch recipe I found while browsing the other day. It is inspired by Charles Dickens own Gin Punch recipe from 1850
Ingredients (for six people): Three brimming teacups of Hendrick’s gin Another three of Madeira wine Three cloves Pinch of grated nutmeg Large teaspoon of cinnamon powder Two teaspoons of brown sugar Six large lemon and orange twists Small slice of orange One fresh pineapple Four large spoons of honey Juice of two lemons
Preparations: Mix all ingredients in a pot. Warm but not quite till ebullition. Let your concoction cook without boiling for 20 minutes to a half hour. While it cooks the taste will change, make it to your own taste balancing the sweet/sour balance with honey and lemon. You can also re warm the mix, sometimes the punch will get better and better as you cook it more and more. When you think it is ready, pour in a teapot and serve hot in tea cups with gingerbread on the side.
Adapted from the original 1850 recipe found in the book “Drinking with Dickens” by Cedric Dickens, Great-Grandson of Charles Dickens.