Ask the bartender: Sean Kenyon delivers a punch

Sean Kenyon knows how to pour out both drinks and advice. A third-generation bar man with almost 25 years behind the bar, he is a student of cocktail history, a United States Bartenders Guild-certified Spirits Professional and a BAR Ready graduate of the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource Program. You can find him behind the bar at Squeaky Bean -- and here every week, where he'll answer your questions. But this week, he's talking turkey.

Thanksgiving is upon us...turkey, tryptophan, food comas, football and house guests. So I figured I would dedicate this round to communal drinking -- specifically, punch.

Conveniently, David Wondrich, James Beard award-winning author, cocktail historian and educator, just came out with a followup to his book Imbibe, aptly titled Punch. (My copy arrived in the mail on the first day it was available, November 2, and I read it within four days. But I'm that kind of nerd.) It chronicles the history and "delights and dangers of the flowing bowl," and includes several punch recipes inside. I highly recommend both books for anyone fond of an occasional (or frequent) tipple.

Fully stocking a bar to fit an entire family's needs before the holiday can be a huge expense. One or two punches, however, can serve and soothe an army of relatives, everyone from cranky Grandpa Ed to creepy Uncle Pepe. And when I talk of punch, I'm not talking about the Hawaiian kind, or the roofie-ridden, garbage-can fraternity type. I'm talking booze.

Punch was the way that society drank from the 1600s (probably even earlier) to the 1800s. It was served in public houses, inns and meeting halls one-hundred-plus years before the cocktail was created. Over time its popularity faded, though, and punches served from the 1950s on were mainly fizzy, fruity and, well...lame.

This punch is my version, a Colorado version, of the famed Schuylkill (pronounced skoo-kill) Fish House Punch. The Schuykill Fishing Company was an angling club started by noteworthy Philadelphians around 1730. By most accounts, there was not a lot of fishing; for the most part, this was a male-only social and drinking organization. Many versions of its signature house punch exist; all claim to be the "real deal."

I make no such claim. Mine is simply a conglomerate of collected recipes, parsed out to create a tasty final product. I have served this at many large public events with great success. Give it a shot.

Platte River Fish House Punch 24 oz. Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey 12 oz. Peach St. Aged Brandy 12 oz. Peach St. Peach Brandy 12 oz. fresh strained lemon juice 12-18 oz. (to taste) 1:1 simple syrup 24 oz. Strong brewed Earl Grey tea (1 bag per 6 ounces), cooled down 8 dashes Angostura bitters

In a large container, combine all of the ingredients. Stir. Pour into a punch bowl over a large block of ice. Ladle into a punch glass filled with ice, grate nutmeg over the top (optional).

Note: You can create large blocks of ice by simply freezing water in a large cereal bowl. Run warm water over the bowl to release.


Send questions for Sean to [email protected] And read his announcement of the Colorado Cocktail competition here.

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Sean Kenyon
Contact: Sean Kenyon