Spiller, of Spiller's Head tavern, which featured a punch bowl on its sign.

Many apologies for the lag in posts! The truth is I’ve been quite busy at work, including writing a fair amount about cocktails, for which I’ll include a few catch-up links in a post to come shortly.

The most recent story is in today’s Tribune, and focuses on the wonderful world of punch, which I had the pleasure to research for my monthly Nightcap column. There’s quite a bit of lore about punch out there on the Web, but my new favorite source for wacky historical anecdotes is Chambers’ Book of Days, originally published in 1832 and (finally!) reprinted in 2004. Chambers has an extended entry under October 25, the year 1694, the date lovingly associated with the largest punch “bowl” in history. British admirals sure knew how to party! It’s a highly recommended, brief read.

In fitting with my research for this month’s column, I’ve got punch fever. I’d been looking for a vintage bowl and cups here and there for awhile, and found a lovely, unusual square-ish set a few weeks back, complete with 12 (!) matching cups, which is pretty much unheard of. In related news, the Stanley Cup made its way to the Tribune newsroom last week and everyone went nuts. Were you aware that Lord Stanley of Preston originally purchased the now famous decorative silver “cup” (it’s a punch bowl) for the equivalent of about $1,200? (I spent closer to $12 on mine.)

In lieu of June Cocktail Club, this weekend the beau and I are throwing our (third!) annual Summer Solstice Soiree and, after sifting through numerous recipes, have decided to derive our own punch for the occasion. Tonight we test recipes, and while it’s fairly open at this point (we’ll probably use a tequila or gin base, but haven’t yet decided), of course we’ll be playing by the rules: five ingredients tops, including a base, a sweetener, a diluter, a citrus and a spice.

I promise to report back here with the results and photos, as this will be my first attempt making a punch and I am a bit nervous.