Looking for the next level in cocktails? How about the drink that started it all? Punch. The newly reopened Punch Room is the perfect place to live in the moment and have a history lesson in drink mixology too. Often regarded as the earliest cocktail, Punch Room focuses on the punch drink in every aspect, with the goal of making punch come out on top again.
Located in Fitzrovia within The London EDITION hotel, the roaring fire, velvet, leather and traditional silver punch bowls allude to an indulgent and private space. However, the atmosphere isn’t stuffy or elitist. Its modern twists create a space where you can easily unwind amongst friends or solo, with all the luxuries too.
With all this in mind, I had to see and experience it for myself. Their new menu ‘Inception’ created by Bar Manager Anthony Callegari, pays homage to four influential figures from the history of punch, who have each evolved the drink further.
To begin, The Punch Room features a daily changing punch to keep you on your toes and to help broaden your knowledge of the drink. Each figure has their own chapter on the menu with several drinks based on century-old recipes. The menu is then split into the more familiar style of drink from low alcohol, classics and more. The bar snacks that accompany the punches are well thought out and match the drinks well. Our favourite was a salmon tartlet along with the moreish goats cheese popcorn.
Chapter 1: Johan
Paying tribute to 17th Century German explorer Johan Albrecht de Mandelso, this chapter is adventurous with exotic fruits, herbs and spices that he would have encountered. I chose the Diplomatic Mission punch. Made with Banks 5 Island Rum, Yaguara organic, Rose cordial, Miclo kirschwasser, Lime Juice, and Peychaud’s Bitters.
The punch embodied a Masculine and tailored feel to it. The black pepper for authority and the rose cordial to add some elegance. It was a perfect start to the journey and left me wanting to explore the menu like Johan had explored the seas.
Chapter 2: Eliza
The next section of the menu is dedicated to 18th Century Eliza Smith known for creating some of the UK’s most loved foods, wines, cordials and medicines. The chapter exploded with experimental options with nowhere to hide and play safe on flavour combinations.
The Parks Punch was made from Martini Rubino, Savoia Aperitivo, Mandarin Sherbet, Balsamic vinegar and pale ale. I had braced myself for a smack from vinegar, wine and ale like some experimental Bloody Mary, but I had to keep checking if I liked it by finishing the drink and ordering another. One of my favourites from the night and totally unexpected. The punch was sherbet sweet but then it built to a rich flavour like a sangria. The flavours all marry and add levels to each other making it very drinkable.
Chapter 3: Charles
The Punch Room honour these drinks to Charles Dickens. His love of punch is well documented throughout his works. The Punch Room created The Roseta Punch to pay homage to Dickens’ ‘The Pickwick Papers’ mention of the drink. Made from Santa Teresa, Demerara syrup, citric acid, and pineapple water. For me, it was the winner of the night. It left me reaching for more. It was light and sweet but tart from the pineapple and the perfect balance.
Chapter 4: Jared
The final chapter goes for the more modern approach. The Punch Room linked it to author, publisher, drinks consultant and cocktail historian Jared Brown. As the co-founder of Sipsmith Gin, they are all Sipsmith gin-based and the flavours link to his love of gardening. By this time I was grateful for the low alcohol Swan Punch. It included Sipsmith low alcohol alongside Lime juice, Passion fruit syrup, Vanilla syrup, Cucumber slice, Mint leaves and Mint soda. It was utterly refreshing way to wind down the evening – but without being typical.
So what does the older wiser ancestor of cocktails have to offer that its offspring don’t? A stronger depth of luxury, of history and creativity. Why settle for a cocktail when you can have Punch? The Punch Room is a must for your London list.
To discover more, visit: editionhotels.com
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All imagery courtesy of The London EDITION / Lateef Photography.