If punch bowls could talk, the stories they would tell would be endless; the nervous glances from the opposite sex, the clammy hands, the awkward first “hello’s”. Parties, socials gatherings, birthday celebrations have all at some point incorporated the famous punch bowl and along with it, a slew of many firsts.
But nothing beats the punch bowl that British Lord Admiral Edward Russell orchestrated for his officers back in 1694 for 6,000 of his guests. The punch bowl of legendary proportions employed a gardens fountain as its location. The mixture included 250 gallons of brandy, 125 gallons of Malaga wine, 1,400 pounds of sugar, 2,500 lemons, 20 gallons of lime juice, and 5 pounds of nutmeg.
A series of bartenders actually paddled around in a small wooden canoe inside the punch bowl, filling up guests’ cups. Not only that, but they had to work in 15-minute shifts to avoid being overcome by the fumes and falling overboard.
The party continued nonstop for a full week, pausing only briefly during rainstorms to erect a silk canopy over the punch to keep it from getting watered down. In fact, the festivities didn’t end until the fountain had been drunk completely dry.
In an effort to recreate the grandiose idea of an oversized punch bowl similar to the one of Admiral Edward Russell, Bompass & Parr staged the Courvoisier Architectural Punch Bowl where guests in attendance could clamber aboard giant, garnish-shaped rafts and float atop the pool-sized vat of fruity cocktail.
Cocktails first originated from New Orleans, where an apothecary by the name of Peychaud (of bitters fame) served a mixed brandy drink in a French eggcup. Eventually the drink was named coquetier, the French term for an eggcup. Peychaud’s guests shortened the name to ‘cocktay,’ and eventually it became “cocktail.”
Since the first mixed brandy drink, the art of designing sophisticated drinks has evolved to completely new levels of complexity. Mixologists, the creative and passionate few, now push methods and limits of what mixed drinks used to be; one of which is molecular mixology. These new and exciting methods enable the creation of greater intensities and varieties of flavor, its combinations and presentation with the use of gels, powders, foams, atomized sprays and even flames.
However, for the beginner, everything almost always sounds complicated. But if you are looking to explore your adventurous side, taking a bartending/mixology class might do the trick. It doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t even have to make a career out of it. If you’re simply not into it, there’s no obligation to take any more classes afterward. Just having simple foundational knowledge of the array of cocktails out there might be enough to boost your liquid intelligence and give you confidence when ordering at a bar or restaurant.
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