Punch Line

Drink with friends, courtesy of Dan Searing

Southern debutantes, our forefathers, and frat brothers have one critical love in common: a good punch.

Since before the Declaration of Independence, punch bowls have brought people together, as they dipped crystal cups into communal cauldrons of rum, gin or grain alcohol.

Local bartender and cocktail historian Dan Searing took a particular liking to the communal legacy of punches and researched the history of punch. The project eventually became his recently published book, The Punch Bowl ($15).

Searing has compiled anecdotes, styling tips and recipes, including 50 classic punches and 25 updated recipes from renowned contemporary cocktail experts.

Heat the almond-infused Cambridge Milk Punch (click here for the recipe) to conquer early autumn breezes. The subtly sweet drink, which dates back to 1869, has a potent base of dark rum and brandy.

Use the bounty from apple-picking expeditions to make Searing's adaptation of brandy-laced apple cider. Pungent with cinnamon, cardamom and clove, the punch's deep spice is cut by orange slices.

Local bar ace Gina Chersevani contributes the Old Faithful, a tart, grapefruit-based blend of bourbon and nectarlike elderflower liqueur.

It's a whole new constitution for your punch bowl.