Dave Wondrich Punches it Up!

That Dave Wondrich guy is amazing.  Not only is he a wealth of knowledge when it comes to everything distilled beverage, but he’s also a darned good bartender. 

Dave talkin' punch

Dave spread his wings earlier this week at the Pegu Club.  He was in good company, might I add:  The Bols Genever team (Tal Nadari, Katie Darling, and Debbie Rizzo) were on hand this fine afternoon, fascilitating this presentation.  That bugger Erick Castro from San Francisco’s Rickhouse was even there!  Yes, folks, an occurrence of this magnitude is enough to provoke SF bartenders to travel 3,000 miles just to be in the same room as Dave and Bols.  Hmm…Dave and Bols…kind of sounds  like a Gaming-themed casual chain restaurant.

Tal Nadari and Katie Darling

There's Erick Castro now! Studying the punch recipes. And I mean studying!

As part of the “Classic Cocktail Series,” Bols Genever hosts wonderful presentations geared towards education and brand awareness.  This day’s focus was on Punches.  I’d focus on punches every day, if I could.


For all we know, Punch could be over 1,000 years old.  As is the case with many origins of cocktails – even the origin of the word “cocktail” itself – it’s exact history can be hard to pinpoint.  Dave spends countless hours, days, weeks, and years researching the history of drink, and as we learned at Pegu this week, he just finished his latest book on, you guessed it, Punch!

Punch has gone through many transitional stages, from a simple beverage made to mask the rough and tumble nature of 16th century crude rum, to a drink for the 18th century upper crust, with expensive and rare spices thrown into the mix to prove just how fancy and dandy these aristocrats were. 

Punch can be any spirit, mixed with water and sugar, including a bit of spice and citrus.  We tasted many combinations of this formula, and all tasted impeccably refreshing and reminscent of olden days.  One such punch had such a smooth texture, one could have swore it had stout in it.  And guess what?  It did!

Here’s that fine recipe below.  The recipe calls for it to be served warm, but we taste it cold.  Feel free to serve it whichever way your heart desires:

Billy Dawson’s Punch (1863)

12 oz. Demerara sugar

8 lemons

1 bottle Smith  & Cross Jamaican Rum

1 Bottle Gosling’s Black Seal Rum

1 Bottle Battavia Arrack van Oosten

15 oz. VSOP Cognac

1 can Guinness Stout

Boiling Water

Method: In a stout earthenware bowl that holds at least a quart and a half, muddle the peel of 6 lemons with 12 oz. demerara sugar.  Add 24 oz. boiling water and stir until sugar has dissolved.  Add 9 oz. lemon juice, 30 oz. rum (20 0z. Smith & Cross Jamaican rum and 10 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal), 15 oz. VSOP Cognac, 3 oz. Battavia Arrack and 9 oz. good porter or Guinness stout, stirring all along.  Finish by slowly stirring 36 oz. boiling water.  Grate nutmeg over the top and serve.

More photos:

Me and Libation Girl, Carmen Carroll

Many thanks to www.lushlifeny.com for the amazing pics!

1 Comment

  1. man, I know how to miss ’em! nice blog J!

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