Wondrich Packs a Punch at Hemingway's

Last night, cocktail heavyweight David Wondrich attracted some of the industry's top talent to Hemingway's for the Los Angeles launch of his new book, Punch. Elite in-town bartenders like Eric Alperin, Marcos Tello and Alex Day made the scene, along with international renowned stars like Simon Ford, Jacques Bezuidenhout and King Cocktail himself, Dale DeGroff. They all turned out to learn more about “the delights and dangers of the flowing bowl,” to hear Wondrich’s anecdotes and to learn some of the historic recipes.

According to Wondrich, one of America’s foremost cocktail and spirit, punch started with English sailors in the 1600s. When the sailors ran out of their daily beer ration – five quarts – or the beer spoiled in the tropics, they found alternate means of consumption. They turned to the little kegs of medicinal brandy that was already shipboard, adding sugar for sweetness, citrus for acidity, water and spice.

“All mixology comes from punch,” said Wondrich. Punch was the drink of choice from 1680 – 1820. He added, “At that point, people decided it was a waste of time sitting around drinking punch all day. I don’t know why.” Punch became a special occasion drink and people made it fancy, with a lot of champagne and fresh berry garnish. He wants to see punch return to its humble roots, saying, “A really good punch can travel without that, but it depends on your audience.”

Wondrich led a demo of Punch Royal before fielding questions from the crowd. This resulted in a number of nuggets, including his view that punch is “the best alternative to bottle service,” and the key to a good punch. “The key to this is you have to put a lot of water in there, and you have to find a way for people to accept that,” he said. Wondrich also added that “You don’t want anything too woody because that tends to be all you taste.” [The Feast]

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