No one—and by “no one” I mean the Internet—seems to know what the origin of today’s National Punch Day holiday is. But do you really need to be inspired to drink cocktail punch? Grab your buddies and hit up the following L.A. bars, all of which specialize in this communal bowl of love. Some of the spots will actually have specials for the day. If you’d rather stay in, however, I’ve included a cocktail punch recipe by bartender Dave Fernie of Pour Vous for your DIYing pleasure.
Spare Room’s “For Kind Kyttock”: Tonight from 8 to 11 p.m. the Spare Room in the Hollywood Roosevelt will be serving up this punch for $5 a glass with a side of shortbread. The punch, by Beverage Director Naomi Schimek, is made with Edinburgh Gin, orange pekoe tea, citrus, sugar, cardamom tincture, pimento bitters, and nutmeg. Naomi said that the punch was inspired by Scottish heroine, “Kind Kyttock, the subject of a poem by William Dunbar, an early Scots poet. She was known for her hospitality, serving good food and liquid refreshments to weary travelers.”
Caña Rum Bar’s “Ultraglide in Black”: On this special day, downtown rum den will be previewing a punch from the fall menu. The “Ultraglide in Black” punch, which has a “pint of Guinness” look to it, is made with Angostura 7 Year, lemon, Benedictine, Pedro Jimenez Sherry, and maple syrup. “Why the name?” asked Caña bar manager Danielle Crouch. “It's composed of dark spirits and dark flavors and Allan [Katz] always wanted to name something after The Dirtbombs’ 2001 classic covers album of the same name that turned on many young punkers to the timeless cool of soul music.” And as a special treat for any punch celebrant, anyone who says “Dirtbombs” at the door gets a free Caña membership or a bonus year tacked onto their pre-existing one!
Acabar’s “Martha Washington’s Punch”: For this punch, barman Josh Goldman referred to Martha’s old reprinted journals and accounts of her punches. “She was actually very well-known for punches and we know that George was a big fan of rum,” said Josh. “Tried to make it as historically accurate as possible using an English style rum and Batavia Arrack along with spices and ingredients that were common for the time period. I've also worked on it for a while trying to get it right or at least what I imagine right would be.” The vintage drink (six servings for $115, eight for $150) is a mixture of Batavia Arrack, English Harbor 5 Yr. Rum, lime sorbet, lemon sorbet, spiced syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
No Vacancy’s “Lady Jane’s Last Vodka Punch”: This popular house punch is made with fresh squeezed lemon juice, St. Vincent Orgeat, vodka, and Angostura and Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters. Bar manager Sean Hamilton picked it as the bar’s National Punch Day selection because “It moves like nobody's business.”
The Edison’s “Billet–Doux Punch”: For the holiday, The Edison will be doing up $12 single servings of this cognac punch, or groups of friends can go in on a $60 bowl (five to six servings) or a $120 bowl (10 to 12 servings). The sparkling punch is made with D'usse Cognac, St. Germaine, lemon juice, orgeat, orange bitters, and champagne.
1886 Bar’s “Scorpion Bowl”: Go Tiki with the Pasadena bar’s flaming cocktail punch. The “Scorpion Bowl,” originally created at Trader Vic’s in Oakland, is presented in a, you guessed it, scorpion bowl which serves four and features a flaming center. It’s a potent concoction of aged rum, pisco, lemon and orange juices, and orgeat.
Oldfields Liquor Room’s “Shrub Punch”: The Culver City watering hole features this refreshing punch ($90, serves eight to 12) made with gin, creole shrub, lemon, blackberry rosemary shrub, simple syrup, Perrier, and garnished with lemon wheels and rosemary sprigs.
Black Cat’s “Indian Summer”: Since this bar/restaurant, from the folks that brought you The Village Idiot, is right across the street from cocktail boutique Bar Keeper in Silver Lake, it’s no surprise that Bar Keeper owner Joe Keeper has become a regular. And this is his favorite punch, which is aptly named as it’s perfect for this extended summer. It’s made with London Dry Gin, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, St. Germain, creme de peche, lemon syrup, unfiltered apple juice, tonic water, sparkling water, seasonal fruit, and cucumbers.
By the way, if you’re looking for punch bowls, Bar Keeper has several in stock, vintage and new.
For stay-at-home bartenders here’s Dave Fernie’s punch. “It's a pretty traditional punch using some old school shit that hearkens back to the early days of drinkmaking. And celebration is about tradition, right?” Dave said.
Punch by Dave Fernie of Pour Vous
750 mL Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac
250 mL Jamaican rum
16 oz Oleo Saccharum
50mL Angostura bitters
150 mL creme de peche
375 mL sparkling wine
1. Make the Oleo Saccharum--sugar and citrus peels--then combine the elements and stir.
2. Add a large block of ice and top with sparkling wine.
3. Garnish with nutmeg.