Punch (drink)

For the Swedish liquor, see Punsch.
Southern Bourbon punch
Type Mixed drink
Standard drinkware Often served in a punch bowl with punch glasses.
Commonly used ingredients

Usually fruit juices and other drink mixers, optionally with alcohol.

Preparation Varies widely. Many prepared mixes are available.
Punch bowl and stand, made at the Meissen factory, Germany, 1770, Victoria and Albert Museum

Punch is the term for a wide assortment of drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, generally containing fruit or fruit juice.[1] The drink was introduced from India to the United Kingdom in the early seventeenth century, and from there its use spread to other countries.[2] Punch is typically served at parties in large, wide bowls, known as punch bowls. Sangria is a kind of punch.


The word punch is a loanword from Sanskrit पञ्च (pañc), meaning "five", as the drink was originally made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices.[3][4]

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.[2][5]

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 emerged. By 1671, documents make references to punch houses.

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 alcohol, 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 Kentucky and other Southern states, sweet bourbon punch is made with sweet tea (a signature drink of the South), citrus flavors and bourbon whiskey.[6] 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, Fish House Punch, Bajan Rum Punch, Caribbean Rum Punch, and others. The most historical rum punches is the 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.[7]

Planter's Punch was invented at the bar of the Planters' House hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.[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. They may be referred to by names such as "grain punch" (made with high-proof grain alcohol and sundry mixers) or "Hairy Buffalo" (liquor of various sorts brought to a BYOB party, mixed in a lined trash can with various carbonated beverages, kool-aid, or whatever is on hand). Some even exclude water altogether and have 30% alcohol by volume (ABV) or more.

Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean countries

Punch is an apéritif.


Punch is a mix between white wine and different kind of fruits, like diced canned peaches.


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. It often includes a Feuerzangenbowle ("Burnt Punch" or, literally, "Fire Tongs Bowl"). This is a punch made of red wine and flaming rum, poured over a Zuckerhut (sugarloaf), a large conical sugar cube placed in the "Feuerzange".


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


Ponche is served during the Christmas holiday season, and it is served warm. According to historians ponche came to Mexico from Persia, where they used to consume a very similar drink they called "panch," made with water, lemon, herbs, sugar and rum. This tradition migrated to Europe and acquired the name "punch," known in Spain as "ponche." Some ingredients used to make ponche are more seasonal and even exotic. Fresh tejocotes, known to the Aztecs as Texocotli (stone fruit) are de rigueur. Tejocotes are the fruit of the hawthorn tree, and resembles crab apples; they have a sweet-sour flavor and an orange to golden yellow color. Other ingredients in ponche are prunes, pears, dry hibiscus, star anise, and sugar cane pieces.[9]

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.


For Swedish punch see punsch

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


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Punch (drink).
Look up punch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
  1. Punch at dictionary.com
  2. 1 2 Edwards, Graham and Sue. The Language of Drink, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1988.
  3. Loanwords
  4. Punch at the Online Etymology Dictionary
  5. "A Vintage Cocktail That Packs A Punch", NPR, December 30, 2010, with 3 vintage recipes
  6. Sweet Bourbon Punch Recipe Archived August 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. David Wondrich (2004). Esquire Drinks. Hearst Books. p. 192. ISBN 1-58816-205-2.
  8. Van Ravenswaay, Charles (1991). Saint Louis: An Informal History of the City and Its People, 1764-1865. Missouri History Museum. ISBN 0-252-01915-6.
  9. https://mymissiontastesofsf.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/las-posadas-contraband-fruit-and-warm-mexican-christmas-punch-wrecipe/
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