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20-40-60 Etiquette---Is punch passe?

by Helen Ford Wallace Published: February 19, 2013


QUESTION: If you are not serving an alcoholic beverage, is punch passe? Is it a beverage of another era?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: Unless it is the signature drink for the event I would pass on serving it. Coke, tea and water are probably your best options.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: While I don’t see punch as often as I used to, a good punch served in a pretty bowl can still be a refreshing drink, especially for a bridal or baby shower or a Kentucky Derby party, which is what makes me think of punch. That and Mint Julep, the Southern drink traditionally served in silver cups.

An Internet search revealed all kinds of punch recipes, many posted in the last few months, for celebrations like the Super Bowl, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving and Christmas and baby showers.

In 2008, both the Los Angeles Times and reported that punch was making a comeback as a drink option, and it featured several upscale restaurants in various cities that were offering punch as a drink choice for a table. These restaurants were punch as a way to get creative with their concoctions beyond traditional recipes.

So yes, punch is a beverage of another era: It dates back several hundred years and has such a history that you can buy a 320-page book from 2010 about it by David Wondrich called “Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl.” However, if you want to serve punch at an event, you can think of it as a retro treat or find ways to bring it up to date and serve it anyway.

HELEN’S ANSWER: Punch is a great drink and most of us still have a punch bowl that we inherited from our mother or grandmother. It is an excellent way to serve drinks. Fruit punch looks beautiful in a glass punch bowl. There are many recipes for punch and lots of current day recipes, including some from Martha Stewart.

My two favorite punches which would be wonderful for today’s parties include a delicious coffee ice cream punch from a sister-in-law and my mother’s Kaiser’s ice cream sherbet punch with ginger ale (and sometimes Champagne and Southern Comfort.) Thinking about these recipes makes me want to have a party!

GUEST’S ANSWER: “Food Dude” Dave Cathey, The Oklahoman’s food editor: Punch is perfectly acceptable, but if you’re interested in doing something less traditional have a mocktails bar.

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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