Your Next Party Will Be Infinitely Cooler If It Has a Big Bowl of Punch

A bustling party is no time to play bartender. Instead, mix one drink in bulk and put it in your biggest bowl next to a ladle and some cups. There’s a name for this concoction: punch. But to make sure yours is more than just a scapegoat for everyone’s hangovers, follow the lead of a new crop of bars serving communal cocktails that boast both potency and polish.

One industry shaker and stirrer drinking the alcoholic Kool-Aid is Stuart Knapman, the bar manager at The Cloak in Toronto. While he admits that punch “lost its way” when it became a trademark of rowdy student parties, he posits that it actually has far more sophisticated origins. Dating back to 16th-century India, punch is thought to get its name from the Sanskrit word for five, a reference to its five key elements: alcohol, sugar, citrus, water, and spices. If executed correctly, this balance of flavours gives the brew broad appeal.

Another benefit of punch’s communal nature: it becomes a shared experience. As Knapman points out, that helps everyone to bond, “especially at a party of distant relatives or different friend groups.” He sees the drink’s unifying powers on display every time someone orders one of The Cloak’s punch bowls. “Every other table in the bar quickly says, ‘We want one of those, too.’” In other words: best to triple his recipe to anticipate demand.

Bowl Over

Three fine vessels ready to become the focal point of your next bash.


Throwback to ’70s soirées — no novelty Waldorf salad necessary — with Kartell’s plastic dish modelled after retro jelly moulds.



Hawkins New York contrasts this 28-centimetre wide bowl’s brass-finished steel exterior with a black enamel lining.



Williams Sonoma’s eight-litre copper bowl — lined with food-safe tin — adds a metallic lustre to ritzy celebrations.


Cloak Winter Punch

Knapman debuted this at a Christmas dinner last year — his first after moving here from England. “I couldn’t help my new friends with the turkey, so I made the drink,” he says. “It’s traditional,” — note the five ingredients — “super seasonal, and fun.” Just don’t be surprised if it inspires some off-key carolling.

  • 10-12 star anise pods
  • 20 g cloves
  • 8-10 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 g grated nutmeg
  • 750 mL orange pekoe tea
  • 25 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters
  • Zest of 8 clementines & 8 lemons
  • 200 mL of lemon juice
  • 200 mL clementine juice
  • 200 mg turbinado sugar
  • 375 mL Mount Gay Black Barrel rum
  • 375 mL Gosling’s Black Seal rum
  • 100 mL Grand Marnier

1. Combine zest of clementines and lemons in a bowl with sugar. Muddle until citrus oils have been extracted to create an oleo saccharum syrup.

2. Toast star anise, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in a pan on medium heat until spices become aromatic. Add the orange pekoe tea and simmer for 8-10 minutes.

3. Combine oleo saccharum, spiced tea, citrus juices, rums, and Grand Marnier in a mixing bowl and stir until sugars have been dissolved. Strain out the zest and spices and serve.