"We started serving punches at special events. They’re an effective way to get lots of cocktails out fast, maintaining integrity without sacrificing service,” says Al Sotack, head bartender at Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company, a Philadelphia spot named after a Prohibition-era bootlegging gang. Now Franklin serves punch at the bar, where it is the biggest selling category.
Step inside any cutting-edge cocktail lounge these days and you’ll see plenty of punch bowls. Death & Co. and Clover Club in New York, Drink in Boston, the Violet Hour in Chicago, Alembic in San Francisco and Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon—to name just a few. One impetus was the recent publication of Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl by cocktail historian David Wondrich.
“David Wondrich has been instrumental in getting people interested in punches again,” says Sotack, who named Franklin’s punch category, “The Flowing Bowl.” “For bartenders who have exhausted other classic options, punches are another trajectory to explore recipes from the past.”
Patrons at Franklin can purchase punches by the glass for $12 each. The drinks are also served in the traditional manner, poured over a large block of ice in a punch bowl. A 10-serving punch is priced $100 and a large bowl is $200 for 20 servings.
Currently there are three available; the Collective Unconscious Punch is made with Cognac, Venezuelan Rum, Arrack, Lapsang Souchong tea, Demerara sugar and Angostura bitters. Angels Falls Punch and Backhanded Punch are also rum-based. The selections change seasonally.
“I think you’ll see punches in all sorts of bars and restaurants soon,” predicts Sotack. “Punch will proliferate like other great cocktail trends.”