The Archetypal Pantry of Ingredients
As you will note, the Punch Archetype establishes the five essential ingredients that make up our Archetypal Pantry. It is worth saying a few words about each of these ingredients.
Often referred to as “the stong”, this is the Big Kahuna of the mixological Pantheon: the base spirit. In addition to the standard gins, whiskies, brandies, rums, and all the rest, cameo performers like liqueurs may step up to leading roles from time to time. Moreover, we must also include the “weak strong” options of beer and/or wine and their variants.
Most notably, lemon and/or lime juices are the main choices, but grapefruit and bitter orange juices could also make an appearance. It should be noted that one role of the sour is to acidify the drink, especially in punch. With this in mind, we may add to our list acidic juices including any citrus juice, pineapple juice, tomato juice, and even the various vinegars.
This is a trick ingredient. Sometimes a spice is not counted as a spice and sometimes something sweet or even something sour may be functioning as a spice. Once we get beyond punch, the ingredient that quite often plays the role of spice will be any form of bitters, including the assorted amari, like Compari, Aperol, Cynar, and Fernet Branca, among many others.
This could be a wide array of items including sugar and all its variants like syrups, molasses, honey, agave nectar, and all the rest. But other sweets may be liqueurs and cordials as well as fruit juices. So, this begs at least two questions: When does a sweet but acidic fruit juice (e.g., orange juice) become a “sour” and when does it become a sweetener? Similarly, when is a liqueur a sweetener and when is it functioning as a “spice”? First, we cannot rule out the possibility that one ingredient plays more than one role in a drink. But the short answer is, “when I say so”. This will be a major bone of contention for those who are looking for pat answers.
This is so often the forgotten ingredient. When we speak of balanced drinks, water may be the most effective balancer of all. Most traditional punch recipes don’t pussyfoot around with water; they just call for more water than appears reasonable. But most often it seems, water comes trick-or-treating disguised as tea, seltzer, tonic water, soft drinks, milk, juices, beer, wine, coffee, or, in its most cunning costume, ice melt.
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