Dining Chicago

Raise a Carafe to National Punch Day

Remember when punch was more synonymous with a rotund juice bowl busting through walls than the trendy quaff that it is today? It's true. In a return to a more vintage style of imbibing, more and more cocktail bars have been rolling out punch programs over the years. Punch is more en vogue than ever before, on the hautest of cocktail menus served by the pitcher. So it's apropos that it gets its own national holiday (though really, any obscure food and drink item has its own holiday nowadays), which takes place this Friday, September 20. In honor of this day of boozy celebration, one of the city's most esteemed cocktail bars is hauling out the vintage service ware to toast the occasion.

On National Punch Day, Barrelhouse Flat will showcase their in-house punch program in a pretty splashy way. Typically served by the pitcher or bowl at the Lincoln Park cocktail haven, servers will instead push the punch around the bar on a vintage cart for guests to drink for $7 a glass. The featured punch for the evening is decidedly autumnal. Crafted by Greg Buttera, the Joseph Banks Explorer punch is made with Banks 7 rum, La Favorite Ambre, pineapple, lime, honey-chai syrup, vanilla-tonka syrup, allspice dram, and soda. The cart will be in motion from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. on September 20, but the punch will be available all night long. 

Punch bowl at Barrelhouse Flat
(Punch bowl at Barrelhouse Flat)

Looking for more places to celebrate National Punch Day? Here are a few more standout punchers:

Big Jones harkens to an era of vintage punch with a couple old-timey varieties. As with much of the food menu, the cocktail list is heavily inspired by time-worn Southern recipes, and the punches are no different. Try the Chatham Artillery punch made with citrus, brandy, bourbon, rum, green tea, and Muscatel, topped off with Champagne. The St. Charles Punch, ca. 1900, named for the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans, features brandy, port, Curaçao, and soda.

Another style of Southern restaurant, Carriage House, also offers a couple plays on punch. Being a more contemporary Southern spot, Carriage House's punches skew mod. Take the Tequila Mockingbirds (great name), with cabeza, Green Chartreuse, lime, thyme, and soda, or the Chucktown Punch brimming with vodka, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, lemon, and spiced sweet tea.

With a name like Maude's Liquor Bar, you'd better believe this West Loop stunner has a damn fine punch. And indeed it does. It also happens to be perfectly fall-y. The signature Maude's Punch is a sultry medley of Smith & Cross rum, allspice dram, and red wine. It's simple, unfussy, potent, and balanced.

Nothing pairs with chicken every which way quite like a fruity cup of punch. Which is why you should scurry over to Pecking Order and partake in this killer combo. After noshing on some of the Filipino-inspired chicken and sides, order some punch by the glass or carafe. The Ladybird punch packs a punch of pineapple, coconut-infused vodka, creme de cassis, and calamansi, while the Happy Manhattan sports apple cider, High West whiskey, and hum liqueur.

At newly opened Peruvian spot Tanta, pisco rightfully takes the spotlight in the pisco punch, one of the two cocktails on tap behind the bar. Peru's signature spirit features in a mixture of pineapple-gomme syrup and lemon, making for a simple, fruit-forward showcase for the potent pisco.

Go forth and celebrate with punch!

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