Fruit Punch and its Many Faces
Fruit punch originated in India and was brought back to Europe by Brittish sailors in the early 1600's. Originally, alcohol, sugar, water, spices or tea and lemon were the ingredients. Until India's drink traveled to Europe, most punch was a German type of hot Christmas drink known as wassail, a heated bowl of spiced wine, mead, or ale with toast for dipping. The only other option for festive party drinks was the feuerzangenbowle, a similar concoction that is worthy of mention. Mulled wine was placed in a pot over a small burner, much like a fondue pot. Then, tongs holding a cone-shaped sugar cube soaked in rum was suspended over the mix. This was then set alight, allowing the sugar to caramelize and the rum to drip into the pot. To light rum in this way, the rum must have a very high alcohol percentage, at least 56%. And speaking of rum, that is just the magic ingredient that the West needed for the inspiration to create modern punch.
Today, fruit punch can be found at almost any gathering or party and just about everyone has their own recipe, but to make proper fruit punch, we must look to tradition. In Mexico, the recipe is one of the most colorful and worth a try if you have ever been curious. All Mexican fruit punch recipes include tejocotes, which are available seasonally in any Mexican market. Not so in the States or Europe! Kumquats will foot the bill unless you're willing to go through the trouble of having the Mexican fruit shipped to you, which is an option. Water, oranges, guavas, prunes, cane sugar, whole cloves and your choice of brandy or rum make this quite a sight and a taste!
There are so many countries with their own recipes, Hawaii being no exception. Their recipe is similar to most, with more of a focus on citrus flavors and sweet ones at that. But for the adventurer in you, the rule of thumb when making the perfect punch is to have a nice overtone of citrus flavor and spice. There are various alcohols that blend well with fruit punch, the most popular being rum for its spice that accompanies citrus flavor well. Pears, plums and anything sweet and mellow is a good addition to the mix. Cloves, ginger, nutmeg, any combination of reasonable spices also make their own contribution well. Good luck with your own punch!