Punch is the term for a wide assortment of drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, generally containing fruit or fruit juice. The drink was introduced from India to England in the early seventeenth century; from there its use spread to other countries. Punch is typically served at parties in large, wide bowls, known as punch bowls.T
he word punch is a loanword from Hindi panch and the drink was originally made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices. The original drink was named paantsch, which comes from the Persian word panjmeaning five. Alternatively, it may have derived from the word puncheon, a cask that held 72 gallons, from which a punch bowl could be made.
The drink was brought back from India to England by sailors and employees of the British East India Company in the early seventeenth century. From there it was introduced into other European countries.
The term punch was first recorded in British documents in 1632. At the time, most punches were of the Wassail type made with a wine or brandy base. But around 1655, Jamaican rum came into use and the ‘modern’ punch was born. By 1671, documents make references to punch houses.
Today, soft drink manufacturers distribute many types of “fruit punch” beverages. These are usually red colored drinks. Despite the name, most brands contain only a small fraction of actual fruit juice, the majority of the flavor comes from sugar or corn syrup, citric acid, and artificial flavors.