September 20th is National Punch Day, a day to make and enjoy your favorite punch. The word “Punch” comes from the Hindi worked “panch”, meaning “five” in reference to the five ingridients in the original recipe: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices. In the early 17th century sailors brought the drink from India to England, where it was most commonly made as a Wassail using a wine or brandy base. As punch became popular it spread across the continent, becoming a favored party drink. Today there are countless punch recipes, including Southern Bourbon Punch, Cups, Planter’s Punch, Bajan Rum Punch, Caribbean Rum Punch, Agua loca (“crazy water”), Feuerzangenbowle (“Burnt Punch”), and pre-mixed Hawaiian Punch and Hi-C.
Although I haven’t had much time for it this year, I used to love having parties and entertaining guests. For years I hosted annual Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day parties. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the planning, decorating, shopping, and cleaning that went into a good party, and no matter how bad the hangover or how sticky my floor, it almost always seemed worth it in the end. However, in spite of numerous appetizers or even a flaming veggie dish here or there, I am almost certain there is one thing I never planned for: punch. I used to own a punch bowl (I can’t find it now — is it possible I lost it in the divorce?), but as far as I know it only housed cider and egg nog on the rare occassion it was used. Considering how delicous punch is, I fear this was a blind spot in my party planning! Or maybe my subconscious was just reminding me of how dangerous the grain alcohol “jungle juice” we used to make in college was!
To celebrate National Punch Day, Chris and I stirred up a quick and simple mix of cherry and pineapple flavored Easy Punch. The recipe actually called for pineapple and strawberry flavoring but we couldn’t find strawberry Kool-Aid packets at Target so we improvised with cherry, a flavor we both like anyway. As soon as we got home we started stirring our liquids together and found that, though we’d halved the recipe, the only container large enough to hold our punch batch was our 8 quart stockpot! When we finished mixing the juice, water, ginger ale, sugar, and cherry kool-aid, we poured a couple of glasses for ourselves and divided the rest between a pitcher and our blender so we could store it in the fridge. The punch was easy to make and we both really like the sweet and fruity taste — I would highly recommend the recipe. I’m going to keep this in mind for our next get-together…maybe I even see another party in our futures!
And in case we haven’t met our sugar quota with today’s punch, tomorrow is National Pecan Cookie Day!