Book Review: The Punch Bowl: 75 Recipes Spanning Four Centuries of Wanton Revelry

Book Review: The Punch Bowl: 75 Recipes Spanning Four Centuries of Wanton Revelry

I am a relative recent, but confirmed, convert to the serving of punch in a party setting. It is always a crowd-pleaser, there are plenty of tasty things you can do with it, and it makes bar service infinitely easier. Serving 20 or 30 at a time just can’t be accomplished any other way.

The trouble with punch is finding a good recipe. Punch hasn’t been fashionable for, oh, 60 or so years, and many punch recipes you’ll find today tend to involve gills of this and drams of that… the this and that not normally being something you’d actually want to consume.

Praise be then to Dan Searing, who has dredged up 75 punch recipes – both classic and modern – and compiled them into one lively, full-color, high-quality book, The Punch Bowl. Searing seems to love punch more than any normal man should, offering a detailed history of the flowing bowl (primarily a sailor’s drink before it entered high society) before launching into a well-curated selection of punches based on a variety of liquids – Champagne, rum, brandy, whiskey, even milk and tea. Who knew?

The real test of any cookbook is whether you’d actually want to create the recipes it offers, and sure enough Searing offers a surfeit of punches that will have to do battle when it comes time to pick a drink for my annual holiday party. While my tastes are running toward some of the tiki-themed punches on offer here, now I know what a couple of green tea bags can do to these wonderful concoctions.


The Punch Bowl: 75 Recipes Spanning Four Centuries of Wanton Revelry




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Jeff on August 18, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Not many people know the histories of their favorite cocktails, but many of those cocktails (particularly classic cocktails) originated from punch recipes that date back as far as the 17th century. There is actually a little rhyme that was used as a “model” for making punches, hopefully it is covered in this book, that works great for testing new cocktails as well: 4 parts hard, 3 parts weak, 2 parts sour, 1 part sweet…then one more of any of the above (the cosmo and other flavor martini variations, the margarita, the long island iced tea, even the sidecar all roughly use this model).

    Since you mentioned the use of tea I can only expect that it is for Cape Fear Punch. If you have never had it, try it…it is excellent (one more tip, freeze some of the punch in a molding for bunt cake to use as the “ice cube” to keep the punch cold and to prevent the punch from being watered down by regular ice,” I have also seen interesting molds designed for ice to be used specifically in punches).

    I appreciate the review of this book and will have to check it out.

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