This week's column is devoted to alleviating election stress with a knockout punch, assisted by the great pioneer mixologist Jerry Thomas, circa 1887. Thomas was not only a talented bartender, he was a great aggregator of recipes, collecting hundreds in his Bar-Tender's Guide (reprinted in 2008 by Ross Bolton) for “All Kinds of Sangarees, Mulls, Toddies, Slings, Sours, Juleps, Smashs [sic], Cobblers, Cocktails” — and Punch, lots and lots of Punch.

For centuries, punch — booze and flavorings in a bowl, on ice (or warm, occasionally) — was the nation's preferred mode of imbibing, until roughly the latter half of the nineteenth century, when spirits finally got good enough not to require so much camouflage. Thomas's recipe collection includes the Spread Eagle Punch, the Bimbo Punch, Mississippi, Canadian, and West Indian Punches, Punches named for hotels and cities and saints, Punches named for the 7th Regiment, the 69th Regiment, and the Light Guard, whose fighting strength, after a bowl of Punch, was no doubt considerably reduced.

For more on Thomas and his punches, pick up a copy of Imbibe!, David Wondrich's Beard-award-winning biography of sorts, complete with recipes. In the meantime, here are two of Thomas's better efforts.

Before attempting, heed this advice:

“It is very important, in making a good punch,” he writes, “that the process of mixing must be diligently attended to.” Check.

As for portions, he recommends one quart for four persons, but adds “this information must be taken cum grano salis (with a grain of salt), as the capacities of persons for this kind of beverage are generally supposed to vary considerably.” Having one or the other on hand come Nov. 6 might be the best thing you've ever done for yourself.

Credit: Ross Bolton

Credit: Ross Bolton

Seventh Regiment National Guard Punch

From: Bar-Tender's Guide, by Jerry Thomas

Serves: A party of 2

1 teaspoonful of powdered white sugar, dissolved in a little water

The juice of a quarter of a lemon

1 wine-glass of brandy

1 wine-glass of Sherry wine [Oloroso is recommended]

Flavor with raspberry syrup

1. Fill the glass with shaved ice. Shake and mix thoroughly, then ornament with piece of orange, pineapple, and berries in season, and dash with Jamaica rum. Serve with a straw.

Credit: Ross Bolton

Credit: Ross Bolton

Imperial Brandy Punch

From: Bar-Tender's Guide, by Jerry Thomas

Serves: a party of 20

1 gallon of water

3 quarts of brandy

1 pint of Jamaica rum

1 ½ pounds of white sugar

Juice of 6 lemons

3 oranges, slice

1 pineapple, pared, and cut up

1 gill (4 oz.) of Curaçao (orange-flavored liqueur)

2 gills of raspberry syrup


Add berries in season

1. Mix the materials well together in a large bowl, and you have a splendid punch.

Patrick Comiskey, our drinks columnist, blogs at and tweets at @patcisco. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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