Punch as my Saviour

A couple of things have changed for me, professionally speaking. I have a barback(YES!) and I made punch at work. What’s the big deal, you say? Please allow me to elucidate.

Christmas Eve was a bamboozle of a night. People taking their sweet time to enjoy(rightfully so) a delicious holiday meal, reservations backed up, and kitchen in the weeds. These all lead to the inevitable jumble of everyone and their mother waiting in the lounge, elbowing out every last bit of polished onyx bar top for a chance at a drink or a bite to eat(sometimes both).

Naturally, as soon as I punched out Sunday morning I began thinking about work. If Christmas Eve was that intense, New Year’s would certainly equal the tone of alcohol imbibing ferocity. I foresaw my attention getting wrestled around  like a pair of new Air Jordans inside a sports store. That was it. I was making punch.

Thumbing through Dave Wondrich’s Punch, I passed dozens of recipes looking for a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Regent’s Punch sang to me loud and clear. We had *most* of the ingredients at work and I could hunt down and make the rest. Done!

Saturday I arrived with gear in tow–my usual kit, odds and ends of additional ingredients, and Edwin with the punch bowl. Luckily, I checked the kitchen freezer to ensure the ice block I froze several days before was untouched, only to find it was in less than suitable condition. Hence, Edwin being a dear(and needing ice for his NYE punch), skipped off to find some block ice on short notice.

The day’s prep began and low and behold, the greatest present(or pain in the ass) a bartender can receive! A shiny new barback! I was as pleased as punch(yeah, that happened), and immediately got him juicing. Fruit juices bottled, syrups mixed, alkee restocked, and punch ready, we were ready to go for a night of celebration!

Turns out Mr. Wondrich’s recipe for Regent’s Punch was a smashing success and saved me quite a bit of time in the heat of service, especially with a trusty helper to spoon out the nectar. I got one lousy shot towards the middle of service of the bowl. Moral of the story? Be Prepared…and make punch.

Notes about execution:

There’s a recipe for it here, although I’d recommend picking up a copy of Punch and following the book recipe as I did. It’s a tad bit different. Also of note, it isn’t quite Seville orange season yet, so I substituted a blood orange which gave it a lovely pink hue. Also, in lieu of 2 mandarin oranges, I substituted 1 small orange.

Something you may want to consider is what type of green tea you use as well. I brewed up Intelligentsia’s Emerald Spring, which is a mild Chinese green tea. I had sencha as well but figured the supreme grassiness of a Japanese green tea would throw the thing out of balance. Would George Augustus Frederick have had Japanese or Chinese green tea? Or both? That’s a question for Dave.

For cognac, REMY VSOP did quite nicely. For rum, I split equal parts between Smith & Cross and Blackwell, both of which are being used in drinks on our cocktail menu now. Ah, serendipity. Batavia arrack was sourced from Edwin @ Tlapazola. I couldn’t choose between maraschino OR pineapple syrup, so I split the measurement in half and used both. Taittinger Brut did splendidly as the champagne.

  • Tatsu


    Omg. How did you get my punchbowl?!?

  • Laura Lindsay


    I stolz it.

  • Chuck


    Yay, punch! In addition to drinking more vermouth/chinato/quinquina/sherry/Madeira this year, I think we’re going to be making a lot more punch.

    Hmm, so where does one get block ice on short notice?

    • Laura Lindsay

      Cheers to that resolution! I’m all in, whether for making or drinking the stuff.

      As for the block ice, check Food 4 Less or Smart & Final. It varies by location; the Highland Park Food 4 Less on Figueroa has it.

      • Chuck

        Thanks! That’s 5 minutes from home, and I’m feeling the need to spend an evening in a Zen-like state turning a big block of ice into large rocks for drinks.

        Tonight I’m going to see how serious Wesly is about Punch Wednesdays. :) Well, maybe Punch Tuesdays since we often like to go out on Wednesdays. Stay tuned!

        • Laura Lindsay

          My pleasure. Punch Tuesdays are even better! Let us know either way.

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