Build in a punch bowl over a block of ice. Garnish with lemon wheels, mint spring, red currant, and grated nutmeg.
20 ML HENNESSY FINE DE COGNAC 15 ML BAROLO CHINATO
20 ML NUTMEG SYRUP
50 ML MERLOT
20 ML LEMON JUICE TOP SODA
Panties, Politics, & PunchConfessions from London EDITION's Davide Segat
ISSUE No 3
Panties, Politics, & Punch
Confessions from London EDITION's Davide Segat
By Davide Segat
A communal drink if ever there was one—served in large bowls to accommodate a thirsty crowd—punch is finally having a renaissance. That’s thanks in part to London EDITION’s Punch Room, run by industry expert Davide Segat, whose carefully crafted recipes are making this 350-year-old alcoholic drink en vogue again. Formerly of London’s Bulgari Hotel, Hawksmoor Restaurant, and Green & Red, Italian- born Segat has been around the beverage block. We caught up with him here, just before the bustling, dimly lit Punch Room opened for the night.
ISSUE No 3
ON PUNCH’S ORIGINS: It comes from the days that England colonized. They went to India. They traveled by boat and had no way to preserve what they needed to survive. One thing was vitamin C, which can cure scurvy. So when they arrived there, they found this drink which is from the word “pañc,” which means five, because it had five ingredients: tea, spices, fruit juice, sugar, and alcohol. In the latter case, coconut arrack, a kind of rum. The booze and the sugar keep the vitamin C in the fruit juice alive. So they would take it back and it would help them to survive. And it became “all the rage,” as they say.
ON PUNCH BEING GENDER-NEUTRAL: There are great recipes from women back in the day. There are [also] great recipes from Charles Dickens, for example. Everyone—when they hosted a dinner—to show their wealth, would make a punch, whether it was a woman making it or a man.
ON PUNCH’S BAD RAP IN AMERICA: It is a sharing drink at the end of the day. You need to make big portions. It went to America but the cocktail took over because people had more preference, they wanted more single-served drinks: “I don’t want to share with 10 people. I want my own.” Also it’s associated with the awful punch students spike in universities, where they throw their entire booze cabinet in a punch bowl with some fruit. Ew.
HOW TO MAKE A GREAT PUNCH: If you think about making a punch to cover the taste of this bad alcohol, it’s not going to work. Everything needs to be balanced and with quality ingredients. You want to use the best: the best sugar leaf, the best tea, the best spices, and the best spirits.
ON HIS INSPIRATION TO WORK IN THE INDUSTRY: It wasn’t a drink. It was more the contact with the people. I never worked in an office because I can’t deal with it, that’s just me. I love the bar atmosphere.
FAVORITE SPIRIT: Tequila and/or mezcal. Spirits made of the agave plant.
ON HOW BARTENDERS BECOME DEFAULT THERAPISTS: You need to be very clever at what you say. You can’t get into the political, religious, or say what you think of something. You need to be able to read your guests and accommodate them.
WEIRDEST PUNCH ROOM STORY: Oh God. Not sure how far can we go? Sometimes crazy stuff just happens. On top of the table, under the table. We’ve found panties. We honestly try to keep it quiet* I can assure you, but sometimes it can be a mischievous place. That’s what I like about EDITION. People walk in and they feel immediately comfortable, so they let themselves go. And a bartender never tells.*Not true. At all.
ON WHY THE LONDON COCKTAIL SCENE IS SO GREAT: It’s a mixture of people knowing what they’re doing and being willing to experiment. The crowd has an open mind.