Punch, Toddy, Grog & Co. – Part 2: Punch – A Drink of the English Seamen

Punch - Titelbild 1.

What actually is a punch and where does it come from? The answer to this question is complex, and we will first look at the statement that the punch is an English invention. How does one arrive at this statement and what evidence supports it?

Let’s start our analysis with the most complex of all mixed drinks considered in this series, the punch. There are many different things to report about it, which is why we will report on it in several posts for the sake of clarity. The questions that arise are: What is the genesis of the punch? Who invented it and where? What do the oldest surviving punch recipes look like and how do they differ from those of today? Why did people drink punch at all? Is the original punch different from its more recent variants? Are they all the same, or can they be categorised into different groups? What changes has punch undergone in the course of its existence?

To find answers to these questions, let’s first take a general look at the history of punch and what is reported about it.

So prepare a bowl of punch and let the games begin: ludi incipiant!

About the origin of the punch

The etymology of John Fryer

In 1698, John Fryer writes that the name “punch” derives from the Indian term for “five”, because it has five ingredients. [9-157] He does not list these ingredients, and it is said that this meant lime or lemon for acidity; sugar for sweetness; rum, brandy or arrack as distillate; water; and, for example, nutmeg as a spice. [1] [2] Critics counter at this point that this statement cannot be confirmed and that, moreover, no Indian sources are known to date to substantiate this word origin, let alone that punch is an Indian invention. [21-30] It is not even known whether the Indians themselves drank punch, or whether it was only customary among the Europeans, and as a result was only prepared for them by the Indians. [21-31] Furthermore, a punch could also consist of only four ingredients. [1] Therefore, this derivation of the word is to be doubted.

Charles Bridges Mount, one of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary, also strongly doubts John Fryer’s statement and knows how to justify it. His essay published in 1907 is worth reading and is therefore reproduced here. The original sources mentioned by him, insofar as we ourselves considered them important, will be discussed in more detail later in our paper in chronological order.

The Charles Bridges Mount rebuttal

Charles Bridges Mount, co-author of the English Oxford Dictionary, [17] contradicts John Fryer and writes in 1905 on the genesis of the punch:  

Charles Bridges Mount: Punch, The Beverage. Notes & Queries, page 401-402.
Charles Bridges Mount: Punch, The Beverage. Notes & Queries, page 401-402. [20-401] [20-402]

“Punch, The Beverage. … For the origin of this word, the commonly accepted account is that given by Fryer, who travelled in the East 1674-1683. Being at Goa in 1676, he says (p. 157):- „At Nerule is made the best Arach or Nepa de Goa, with which the English on the coast make that enervating liquor called Paunch (which is Indostan for Five), from the Ingredients.“ (These he does not specify.) Is this history of the word correct? I greatly doubt. A priori, it is not very probable; for why should Englishmen give a name from Hindi for a drink of their own compounding? and, moreover, it is likely enough that many a tentative bowl of punch was brewed before the sacred number five was settled upon. Indeed was it ever settled? Mandelslo, a writer hereafter to be spoken of, mentions only four ingredients. Another writer (in Y. and B.] gives five, one being “biscuit rosti.” I fancy that every punch-maker would swear by his own recipe. There is plenty of evidence that in the seventeenth century Anglo-Indians drank freely of punch, and that India was regarded as the native home of it. So Phillips (‘ World of Words,’ 1662) says, ‘Punch, a kind of Indian drink”; and a French writer (in Y. and B.), ” boisson dont es Anglois usent aux Indes.” But it is not yet shown that they invented punch. When now we come to the evidence obtainable from various authors, the first notice of the English word as yet forthcoming is in a ‘History of Barbadoes,’ by Richard Ligon. He was there in the years 1647-51. He mentions various “strong drinks,” among which “punch is a fourth sort:—it is made of water and sugar put together: whiche in tenne dayes standing will be very strong, and fit for labourers.” This is not the punch that we know; but it will scarcely be thought that in this employment the word is of independent origin. Anyway, it is a puzzler. But even before Ligon the word occurs most strangely and most notably in a foreign guise. The Dutchman Mandelslo [Our note: he was a Mecklenburger], on a voyage from Gambroon to Surat, in 1638, drank palepunzen, the word being understood, no doubt rightly, to represent the English “bowl-of-punch,” as does a corresponding French word bolleponge (both in Y. and B.). If, then, by 1638 foreigners had learnt from Englishmen to enjoy a bowl of punch, and to call it by its English name, we shall not be asking too much if we require all the previous years of the century for the invention of it among Englishmen. Now what was the status of Englishmen in India during those early years? Almost nil. Only in 1614 they obtained from the Great Mogul permission to build a factory at Surat, with a few subordinate agencies in the neighbourhood. This was their first footing in India. Consequently we have only twenty-four years (1614-38), in which they must have invented punch, fixed the name, and made it so generally known as to have become a household word among Dutchmen. It may be worth notice also that in those years there seems to have been almost perpetual collision and squabble between the pushing Briton and the jealous Hollander—small space for the convivial intercourse in which the latter should have been taught to love punch. In view of these facts and fairly admissible surmises, Fryer’s evidence, coming a full half-century after, seems too late to be of much value. It is quite possible, indeed, that at that time some Anglo-Indian etymologist, seeking an explanation for the unexplained, should have thought that he found it in Hindi punch. Or might we even hazard the suggestion that Fryer’s hosts were poking fun at him, as they watched the traveller filling his notebook? Such tricks were practised even upon that ancient traveller Herodotus. This now is my alternative suggestion: that punch was originally a drink of sailors, and that the name originated (howsoever) with them. In this way we shall at least have more elbow-room, not being restricted to 1614 as our terminus-a-quo. This way also we may get a very probable explanation of Anglo-Indians’ addiction to punch. They would have ample time to learn it in a passage of five or six months. That punch was a favourite drink of sailors we have abundant evidence. Our very earliest authority, Mandelslo the Dutchman, drank punch on a voyage from Gambroon to Surat.* (* It may be worth noting that he sailed on an English ship, the Swan.) Evelyn (‘ Diary,’ 16 January, 1662), being entertained on board an Indiaman, notes punch as a ” curiosity.” Another landsman, Henry Teonge, naval chaplain, going on board for the first time to take up his duty, is at once set down to a bowl of punch, “a liquor very strainge to me,” and, unknowing of its insidious quality, is promptly made drunk by it, as was Robinson Crusoe in like circumstances. The Frenchman Bernier (1664) notes the havoc wrought on ships’ crews, both English and Dutch, by the excessive indulgence in bouleponges (‘Voyages and Travels,’ 1745, ii. 241). The same thing is deplored by Tryon, ‘Way to Health,’ 1683, p. 192. I give these examples for specimens. It is obvious that foreigners, Dutch and French, were far likelier to learn punch-drinking in seaport towns than in the land stations of India. Sailors of different nationalities, when not fighting each other, are apt to be good comrades, and the Dutchmen and the Frenchmen may quite possibly have learnt to drink punch in seaports far from India. Moreover, they are very ready, I believe, to pick up from each other words which subsequently become current in the language of those who have taken the words. To me this seems a ready explanation of the appearance of palepunz and bolleponge. I have, in conclusion, only a hint to offer as to the possible origin of the word, if it was indeed a sailor’s word. May it have been adapted from the puncheon, to which all sailors would look for their allowance of rum? There is not a scrap of evidence for this, but to me it seems at least as likely as the Hindi punch—five. C. B. MOUNT.[20-401] [20-40]

Does the term punch come from puncheon?

David Wondrich does not follow Charles Bridges Mount’s suggestion that punch could have come from puncheon, the name for a barrel. For one thing, it could not be proven, and for another, a puncheon holds between 60 and 90 gallons, i.e. around 270 to 409 litres. These barrels would have been too large to mix a punch in. David Wondrich says that between 10 and 20 people would have been stationed in the Indian factories of the East India Company, so that each of them would have had to drink several gallons of punch. So if they had mixed in barrels, they would certainly have used the smaller ones, holding about 13 gallons, which is about 60 litres, in which they stored aqua vitae. [21-31] One might object critically that Charles Bridges Mount had said that punch was something that was drunk on a ship’s voyage, and that a whole ship’s crew would therefore need larger barrels, analogous to those from which the daily rum ration was dispensed.

E. Chambers: Cyclopaedia. 1726, page 911.
E. Chambers: Cyclopaedia. 1726, page 911. [30-911]

In addition, the Puncheon was probably smaller than indicated by David Wondrich. In Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopedia from 1728, it says: “PUNCHION, is also a Measure for Liquids, containing 1 1/3 of a Hogshead; or 48 Gallons, or 1/3 of a Tun. See MEASURE.[30-911]

However, a puncheon could also contain up to 120 gallons. [33]

We leave the question of whether puncheon is the etymological origin of the drink, or the Hindi term for “five”, or perhaps something else, unanswered at this point. Everyone may first weigh it up for themselves.

Punch and other namings

Although we do not know where the term “punch” ultimately came from, we do know that it was first used in writing in a letter written by Robert Addams on 28 September 1632 to T. Colley, a merchant in Pattapoli: “I hop you will keep good house together and drincke punch by no allowance.[1] [2] [28-1595]

It is not entirely clear what the author of the lines meant, because “by no allowance” can mean “not at all” or “not restricted by rationing.” [35-563]

But the drink was also known by other names. In Dutch it was called palepunts or paleponts; in German Palepunz or Palebunze; in French bolleponge, bouleponge, or bolponze; this name was again cited in English as palepunshen. [28-1595] But the terms bolle-ponjis, paleponts, palepuntzen, palapuntz and follepons [2] as well as Pontz, Ponze, Pontze, bure Ponz or Burepontz [37-173] [37-201] have also been used. Whether this really derives etymologically from a “bowl of punch” cannot be proven, but it is a nice derivation.

There are also authors who interpret Palepuntz as “pale punch.” [29-28] [34]

An invention of the sailors?

Let us first pursue the explanation proposed by Charles Bridges Mount that punch was not an Indian invention and that it did not originate in Surat but on English ships. David Wondrich has collected further circumstantial evidence in support of this proposition. What is the evidence in favour of this?

Spiced wine

Anonymus: The Literary Museum, 1792, page 18.
Anonymus: The Literary Museum, 1792, page 18. [18-18]

Even before the arrival of the English in India, George Gascoigne, an English poet who died in 1577 and who was also a mercenary in the Netherlands, [16] reported the following in 1567 in his text entitled “a Delicate Diet for Droonkardes” about spiced wine: “Yea wine of it selfe is not sufficient, but Suger, Limons, & sundry sortes of spices, must be drowned therin.[18-18]

As David Wondrich correctly points out, in this recipe one would only have to replace the real wine with an artificial wine, that would be aqua vitae diluted with water, to get a punch. [21-32] The DNA of punch was therefore already known in medieval England.

Brandy and maritime shipping

There is a strong argument that punch is closely linked to maritime shipping. Traditionally, English ships carried beer for the entire crew and wine for officers and important passengers. This required a lot of space on board. For example, David Wondrich reports that on Captain Fenton’s ship, probably meaning Edward Fenton who died in 1603, [14] about 100 seamen consumed 2300 gallons of beer and 300 gallons of cider in less than two months, that is about 10456 litres of beer and 1364 litres of cider, or almost 12 cubic metres, and in addition an average of three bottles of wine were drunk daily by the higher-ups. [21-33]

As another example, he cites the four ships of the East India Company that set sail in 1601 with a crew of 480. They carried 1000 gallons, or about 4546 litres, of cider and 30000 gallons of beer, or about 136383 litres, which together amounted to more than 140 cubic metres, which in total corresponded to a cargo of 420 tons, out of a total capacity of 1160 tons. You can see from this that just under 30% of the cargo consisted of beer and cider. [21-33]

John Knox Laughton: State papers relating to the defeat of the Spanish armada anno 1588, Vol. II, 1894, page 159.
John Knox Laughton: State papers relating to the defeat of the Spanish armada anno 1588, Vol. II, 1894, page 159. [13-159]

But the storage space needed was not the only problem. There was also a hygienic one. For example, in 1588, when the English fleet was fighting the Spanish Armada, there was an epidemic throughout the fleet. [21-33] The English admiral Charles Howard wrote about this on 26 August 1588: “But, Sir, the mariners who have a conceit (and I think it true, and so do all the captains here) that sour drink hath been a great cause of this infection amongst us; and, Sir, for my own part I know not which way to deal with the mariners to make them rest contended with sour beer, for nothing doth displease them more.[13-159]

Anonymus: Hakluyt’s collection of the early voyages. Vol. 5, London, 1812, pagee 8.
Anonymus: Hakluyt’s collection of the early voyages. Vol. 5, London, 1812, pagee 8. [12-8]

It was not unusual for beer to go bad before the invention of pasteurisation. It was difficult enough to keep it from going sour in a cool, dry cellar. On a ship, especially in the tropics, this was immensely more difficult. [21-34] A Dutch sailor wrote about a voyage to Brazil in 1595: “vpon the fourth of June we passed the Equinoctial line, where the extreme heat of the ayre spoyled all our victuailes: Our flesh and fishe stunke, our Bisket moldet, our Beere sowred, our water stunke, and our Butter became as thinne as Oyle, whereby diverse of our men fell sicke, and many of them dyed; but after that we learned what meat and drinke we should carrie with vs that would keep good.[12-8]

John Knox Laughton: State papers relating to the defeat of the Spanish armada anno 1588, Vol. II, 1894, page 291.
John Knox Laughton: State papers relating to the defeat of the Spanish armada anno 1588, Vol. II, 1894, page 291. [13-291]

But not only beer, also wine could go sour. [21-34] On 5 November 1588, Georgy Carry reported wine that had gone bad: „I disburse the money myself, for money is not to be received for the wines, Sir John Gilberte having disposed already of all the best; the rest, though ill usage in this country, will yield but little, nor good for anything, as I think, save only to make aquavitae of, or such like.[13-291]

Mr. Wiliam Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. 1623, page 93.
Mr. Wiliam Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. 1623, page 93. [11-93]

David Wondrich rightly remarks that this was precisely the solution and also refers to William Shakespeare. [21-34] He has Dromio say in the Comedy of Errors: “Our fraughtage, sir, I haue conuei’d aboord; and I haue bought The Oyle, the Balsamum, and Aqua-vitae.” [11-93]

The comedy was first published in 1623, and was probably written between 1592 and 1594. [10] William Shakespeare was thus one of the first to describe aqua vitae being taken on board as cargo. When fighting the Armada, in 1588, aqua vitae was apparently not yet part of the cargo. It is not documented either in preserved victualing records of captured Spanish ships or for English ships, [21-34] and as we have already seen, it was not on the Dutch ship that sailed to Brazil in 1595. Its crew, by their own admission, first had to learn which drinks did not spoil; unfortunately, their solution to the problem is not described in more detail, but the drinks will probably have been American sugar cane distillates. After all, aguardente de caña had been distilled in Brazil since the 1530s. [8]

The aforementioned Edward Fenton, who died in 1603, had also loaded aqua vitae alongside his large supplies of beer and wine. As we can see from his travel journal, it seems that beer and wine were served first, and when these ran out, they switched to aqua vitae. [21-35]

Sir William Foster: The Voyage of Thomas Best to the East Indies, 1612-14. 1934, page 116.
Sir William Foster: The Voyage of Thomas Best to the East Indies, 1612-14. 1934, page 116. [4-116]

The seafarers in these times had loaded large quantities of beer and wine, but also aqua vitae, and the seafarers also took risks to obtain the latter. For example, one boatman is known to have swum ashore from a ship anchored in Surat in 1612 with a few comrades, and there spent the day drinking with prostitutes, “drinkinge drunk with houres”. [21-35] [4-116] In 1613, John Jourdain, the East India Company’s most important factor in Indonesia, reported that ships liked to supply themselves with Jakarta arrack. [21-35]


But if one had the opportunity, one also drank distillates some years before. Robert Pike, for example, a sailor accompanying Francis Drake, is reported as saying: “Although Drake gave his men strict orders that no one should move or turn, […] one man, named Robert Pike, who had seen too much strong brandy and had not mixed it with water, was so imprudent that he […] went to the road, willing to tackle one of the most valuable cargo animals of a caravan.[3-79]

Anonymus: Der Englische Held und Ritter Franciscus Dracke. 1727, page 79.
Anonymus: Der Englische Held und Ritter Franciscus Dracke. 1727, page 79. [3-79]

– “Ob gleich Drake seinen Leuten scharff anbefohlen, daß sich niemand weder regen noch wenden solte, […] so war doch einer, mit Nahmen Robert Pike, der zu viel starcken Brandtewein gesehen, und solchen nicht mit Wasser vermischt hatte, so unbesonnen, daß er […] nach der Strasse gieng, in willens eines von den fördersten Last-Thieren einer Caravane anzupacken.[3-79]


David Wondrich aptly remarks that the point was not that Robert Pike had drunk diluted but undiluted brandy, and concludes that it was standard practice to add water to brandy and that this would already be a big step towards punch, because all that was missing was citrus juice, sugar and spices. [21-36]

Citrus fruits and scurvy

Richard Maddox

As early as 1583, Richard Maddox [19] wrote in a travelogue about the efficacy of citrus in curing scurvy when one landed in Guinea, “Above 50 men that wer before geven over to death ar now become lusty and strong, for the lymmons have scowred their mowths, fastened their teath and purifyd the blood.[21-36]

He is thus describing the cure for scurvy, the first symptoms of which include bleeding gums and loose teeth. [21-36] He will probably have meant lemons. David Wondrich, on the other hand, is less sure, saying that until the 18th century, both lemon and lime would have been called “lemon.”[21-36] [15]

Sir James Lancester

Clemens R. Markham: The Voyages of Sir James Lancaster. 1877, page 66.
Clemens R. Markham: The Voyages of Sir James Lancaster. 1877, page 66. [26-66]

A report is given on Sir James Lancaster’s first voyage to the East Indies in 1600:  [21-36] [21-37] [26-66]The seuenteenth of December, wee had sight of the southermost part of the Iland of Saint Mary, and the next day wee anchored betweene Saint Mary and the great Iland of Saint Laurence, and sent our boats aland to Saint Mary, where wee had some store of limons and oranges, which were precious for our diseased men, to purge their bodies of the scuruy.” [26-66]

James Lancaster knew the importance of citrus fruits and, if he ran out, even changed his route to get some. [21-37]

John Woodall and the East India Company

David Wondrich says that it is not known whether people generally drank citrus juice straight or mixed it with something. [21-37]

Iohn Woodall: The Svrgions Mate. 1617, page 184-185.
Iohn Woodall: The Svrgions Mate. 1617, page 184-185. [32-184] [32-185]

Interesting, however, is a publication by John Woodall, the chief physician of the East India Company, which was published in 1617. [21-37] We may assume that this work was known to all ship’s doctors of the East India Company as a standard work, because its subtitle reads: “Published chiefly for the benefit of young sea-surgions, imployed in the East-India Companies affaires.” In connection with scurvy, he reports: “and yet there is a good quantity of Iuice of Lemmons sent in each ship out of England by the great care of the Merchants, and intended onely for the releese of euery poore man in his neede, which is an admirable comfort to poor men in that disease: also I find we haue many good things that heale the Scuruy well at land, but the Sea Surgeon shall doe little good at Sea with them, neyther will they indure. The vse of the iuice of Lemons is a precious medicine and wel tried, being sound & good, let it haue the chiefe place for it will deserue it, the vse whereof is: It is to be taken each morning, two or three spoonfuls, and fast after it two houres, and if you adde one spoonefull of Aquavitae thereto to a cold stomacke, it is the better. Also if you take a little thereof at night it is good to mixe therewith some suger, or to take of the syrup there-of is not amisse. Further note it is good to be put into each purge you giue in that disease. Some Surgeons also giue of this iuice daily to the men in health as a preseruatiue, which course is good if they haue store, otherwise it were best to keepe it for neede.” [32-184] [32-185]

So it is recommended to mix lemon juice with sugar and aqua vitae. All that is now missing for a punch is water and – if it is to be prepared with five ingredients – the spice.

Finally, on the subject of lemon juice, it is worth noting that the serving of citrus juice was probably not universal, and on the five ships of the East India Company that left England in April 1601 under the command of James Lancaster to trade with the East Indies, it was apparently only served on James Lancaster’s ship, three tablespoons full daily, for in the course of the voyage scurvy occurred on all the other ships except his. [27]

Despite all this knowledge, however, it was to be a long time before the Admiralty decreed that citrus juice was to be carried on every ship.

Wine as a remedy for scurvy

Iohn Woodall: The Svrgions Mate. 1617, page 185.
Iohn Woodall: The Svrgions Mate. 1617, page 185. [32-185]

Interestingly, John Woodall then goes on to write about what else can be given to treat scurvy, including: “Further a decoction of Branne and therein Almonds ground, adding Cinamon and Rosewater a little, and some Suger were very comfortable now and then to be taken to refresh the stomacke.” [32-185]

Branne was a wine, because that is the name given to Gouais Blanc, or Heunisch, which was the most important white wine variety until the middle of the 19th century. [6] [22]

Punch – A remedy for scurvy?

Let us summarise once again beforehand. On the one hand, one is supposed to take a mixture of lemon juice, sugar and aqua vitae for scurvy. On the other hand, a white wine mixed with a little sugar, rose water and cinnamon is also mentioned. If one makes one of the two recipes and replaces the wine with an “artificial” one, that is aqua vitae diluted with water, one gets a mixture of aqua vitae, rose water, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. The ground almonds shall not be taken into account. This is very reminiscent of the oldest recorded punch recipe by Johann Albrecht von Mandelsloh, according to which the punch, or, as he calls it, the palepuntz, “consists of aqua vitae, rose water, lemon juice and sugar.[7-18]

Iohn Woodall: The Svrgions Mate. 1617, page 186.
Iohn Woodall: The Svrgions Mate. 1617, page 186. [32-186]

It is true that a punch was usually garnished with nutmeg, not cinnamon, but this is not important for the proposed derivation, as John Woodall also writes: “Also all kinds of Spices moderately taken are good“. [32-186]

Apparently David Wondrich did not read this work completely, otherwise he would not have written that it is quite possible that in practice lemon juice was also sweetened. He thinks it probable, however, and reasons that according to old East India Company records, members of the East India Company possessed and acquired much sugar as soon as there was an opportunity to do so. [21-37] Spices may also have been available on board for personal use, David Wondrich suggests, writing that James Lancaster, for example, would have had 50 pounds of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg on board to be used during the voyage. [21-37]

David Wondrich concludes that although there is no clear evidence that punch was an English invention, there is enough circumstantial evidence and that everything needed to make punch was available. The circumstantial evidence also explained why punch was originally a sailor’s drink. [21-37] [21-38]

A drink of the seafarers

Woodes Rogers: A Cruising Voyage round the World, 1712, page 390.
Woodes Rogers: A Cruising Voyage round the World, 1712, page 390. [23-390]

The privateer Woodes Rogers anchored in Batavia, today’s Jakarta in Indonesia, in 1710 and reported: “June 30. I am still very weak and thin, but I hope to get Time and Leisure to recover my Health. During these 10 Days, I was not able to go much on board, and whenever I went, found, that till then I was a Stranger to the Humours of our Ship’s Company. Some of them were hugging each other, others blessing themselves that they were come to such a glorious Place for Punch, where they could have Arack for 8 Pence a Gallon, and Sugar for 1 Peny a Pound; others quarreling who should make the next Bowl, for now the Labour was worth more than the Liquor, whereas a few Weeks past, a Bowl of Punch to them was worth half the Voyage.” [23-390]

This quote also explains why punch was initially a drink for sailors. They could get the ingredients they needed cheaply on their voyages. This was not possible for London society. Punch was expensive there and therefore initially reserved for the upper classes. [5]

Robinson Crusoe &c.

Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe: The life and strange surprizing adventures of Robinson Crusoe. Lonon, 1719.
Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe: The life and strange surprizing adventures of Robinson Crusoe. Lonon, 1719. [31]

The testimony of Woodes Roger offers us the opportunity to make a small digression for the Bildungstrinker.  The author, Woodes Rogers, was born around 1679 in Bristol, England, and died in the Bahamas in 1732. He was first a privateer who robbed Spanish merchant ships, but later, as governor of the Bahamas, he fought piracy, His motto was “Expulsis Piratis Restituta Commercia“, “Pirates driven off, trade restored“, and this was also the motto of the Bahamas until its independence in 1973. [24] As already mentioned in the title of his book, he rescued Alexander Selkirk from a desert island. The latter was actually called Selcraig and came from Scotland. He went to sea, and when they landed on the uninhabited Isla Más a Tierra, they found that the hull of the ship was badly damaged by drilling shells. Fearing to sink, Alexander Selkirk did not want to leave the island with it and tried to persuade other comrades to stay. He did not succeed, and according to an anecdote, he then exclaimed “I’ve changed my mind“, to which the captain only replied “But I haven’t” and left Alexander Selkirk alone on the island. A short time later, the ship sank together with the crew. Alexander Selkirk was able to save himself from the Spaniards who landed later, because as a privateer they would certainly have put him on trial. After more than four years on the island, he was finally rescued by Woodes Rogers and his crew on 2 February 1709. The account of these events inspired Daniel Defoe to write his novel Robinson Crusoe. [24] [25]


We can conclude that there are many indications that punch has its origins in English seafaring and can therefore be suggested as an English invention. But when did it become a drink that was not only popular with seafarers? This question will be dealt with in the next post in this series.

  1. https://www.diffordsguide.com/g/1129/punch-and-punches History of punch. By Simon Difford.
  2. http://www.drinkingcup.net/history-punch-part-1/ A history of punch – part 1: Sailors, Sack and the number five.
  3. https://archive.org/details/derenglischeheld00rb16_0/page/78/mode/2up?q=%22Robert+Pike%22 Anonymus: Der Englische Held und Ritter Franciscus Dracke, In einer ausführlichen Beschreibung von dessen Leben, Thaten und See-Reisen, darunter besonders die Reise um die Welt sehr merckwürdig, Vormahls von Roberto Brown in Englischer Sprache entworffen; anitzo aber ins Teutsche übersetzet, Welcher ein Anhang beygefüget von dem erstaunens-würdigen Schiffbruch des Ost-Indischen Jagdt-Schiffes, der Schelling genannt. Leipzig, (1727).
  4. https://archive.org/details/voyageofthomasbe00will/page/116/mode/2up?q=drinkinge Sir William Foster: The Voyage of Thomas Best to the East Indies, 1612-14. London, 1934.
  5. https://www.piratesurgeon.com/pages/surgeon_pages/booze11.html Booze, Sailors, Pirates and Health In the Golden Age of Piracy, Page 11. By Mark C. Kehoe, 2003.
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gouais_blanc Gouais blanc.
  7. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31822038219002&view=1up&seq=478&q1=palepuntz Adam Olearius: The voyages & travels of the ambassadors from the Duke of Holstein, to the Great Duke of Muscovy, and the King of Persia. Begun in the year M.DC.XXXIII. and finished in M.DC.XXXIX. Containing a complete history of Muscovy, Tartary, Persia, and other adjacent countries. With several publick transactions reaching neer the present times; in seven books. London, 1662. Therein: Mandelslo’s Travels into the Indies.
  8. http://bar-vademecum.de/chronologie-rum-rhum_agricole-cachaca/ Armin Zimmermann: Chronologie des Rums, Rhum Agricoles und Cachaças. 29. November 2015.
  9. https://archive.org/details/anewaccounteast00whitgoog/page/n193/mode/2up?q=paunch John Fryer: A new naccount of East-India and Persia in eight letters being nine years travels, begun 1672. And finished 1681. London, 1698.
  10. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Kom%C3%B6die_der_Irrungen Die Komödie der Irrungen.
  11. https://digital.lib.miamioh.edu/digital/collection/wshakespeare/id/10848 Mr. Wiliam Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Trgedies. Published according to the True Originall Copies. London, 1623.
  12. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433003162868&view=1up&seq=20&q1=%22the%20extreame%20heat%20of%20the%20ayre%22 Anonymus: Hakluyt’s collection of the early voyages, travels, and discoveries, of the English nation. A new edition, with additions. The fifth volume. London, 1812.
  13. https://archive.org/details/statepapersrelat0002unse/mode/2up John Knox Laughton (Hrsg.): State papers relating to the defeat of the Spanish armada anno 1588. Vol. II. 1894.
  14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Fenton Edward Fenton.
  15. https://bar-vademecum.de/vom-gin-punch-zum-collins-teil-4-der-wahre-ursprung-der-limonade/ Vom Gin-Punch zum Collins – Teil 4: Der wahre Ursprung der Limonade.
  16. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gascoigne George Gascoigne.
  17. https://historicinterpreter.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/the-flowing-bowl-a-short-history-of-punch/ The Flowing Bowl: A short history of punch. By Chuck H., 19. January 2015.
  18. https://books.google.de/books?id=s2t1_UgtfBcC&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&ots=1_fPZ-DD8U&focus=viewport&dq=%22wine+of+it+selfe+is+not+sufficient%22&hl=de#v=onepage&q=%22wine%20of%20it%20selfe%20is%20not%20sufficient%22&f=false Anonymus (Francis Godolphin Waldron): The Literary Museum; or, a selection of scarce old tracts. London, 1792.
  19. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Madox Richard Madox.
  20. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b1/Notes_and_Queries_-_Series_10_-_Volume_4.djvu/page487-1024px-Notes_and_Queries_-_Series_10_-_Volume_4.djvu.jpg und https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b1/Notes_and_Queries_-_Series_10_-_Volume_4.djvu/page488-1024px-Notes_and_Queries_-_Series_10_-_Volume_4.djvu.jpg Anonymus: Notes and Queries, 10th S. IV, 18. November 1905. Therin: Punch, the beverage.
  21. David Wondrich: Punch. The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flwing Bowl. An Anecdotal History of the Original Monarch of Mixed Drinks, with More Than Forty Historic Recipes, Fully Annotated, and a Complete Course in the Lost Art of Compounding Punch. ISBN 978-0-399-53616-8. New York, Pedigree Book, 2010.
  22. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heunisch_(Rebsorte) Heunisch (Rebsorte).
  23. https://books.google.de/books?id=e1GmdIw7fpgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22A+Cruising+Voyage+Round+the+World%22&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwisrIKd0d7rAhUR-qQKHRe8AuEQ6AEwAHoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=punch&f=false Woodes Rogers: A Cruising Voyage Round the World: First to the South-Seas, thence to the East-Indies, and homewards by the Cape of Good Hope. Begun in 1708, and finish’d in 1711. Containing a Journal of All the Remarkable Transactions; Particularly, of the Taking of Puna and Guiaquil, of the Acapulco Ship, and other Prizes; an Account of Alexander Selkirk’s living alone four Years and four Months in an Island; and A Brief Description of several Countries in our Course noted for Trade, especially in the South-Sea. With Maps of all the Coast, from the best Spanish Manuscript Draughts. And an Introduction relating to the South-Sea Trade. London, 1712.
  24. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodes_Rogers Woodes Rogers.
  25. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Selkirk Alexander Selkirk.
  26. https://archive.org/details/voyagesofsirjame00mark_0/page/66/mode/2up?q=%22which+were+precious+for+our+diseased+men%22 Clemens R. Markham: The Voyages of Sir James Lancaster, Kt., to the East Indies, with abstracts of journals of voyages to the East Indies, during the seventeenth century, preserved in the India office. And voyage of captain John Knight (1606) to seek the north-west passage. London, 1877.
  27. https://www.amazon.com/-/de/gp/customer-reviews/R348HUM4JPUI21/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0374219362 Custom Review von Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: Or, The True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed The Course Of History.
  28. https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.120831/page/n383/mode/2up Anonymus: The Oxford Dictionary. Vol. 8. Oxford, 1933.
  29. https://archive.org/details/thetravelsofpetermundyineuropeandasia16081667vol2/ The travels of Peter Mundy, in Europe and Asia, 1608-1667. Vol. II. Travels in Asia, 1628-1634. Works issued by The Hakluyt Society, second series, No. XXXV., 1914.
  30. https://archive.org/details/Cyclopediachambers-Volume2/page/n191/mode/2up/search/punch?q=punch E. Chambers: Cyclopaedia: or, an universal dictionary of arts and sciences; containing the things signify’d thereby, in the several arts, both liberal and mechanical, and the several sciences, human and divine: The figures, kinds, properties, productions, preparations, and uses of things natural and artificial; The rise, progress, and state of things ecclesiastical, civil, military, and commercial: With the several systems, sects, opinions, &c. among philosophers, divines, mathematicians, physicians, antiquaries, criticks, &c. Volume the second. London, 1728.
  31. https://archive.org/details/lifestrangesurpr01defo Daniel Defoe: The life and strange surprizing adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, mariner: Who lived eight and twenty years all alone in an un-inhabited island on the coast of America, near the mouth of the great river of Oroonoque; having been cast on shore by shipwreck, wherein all the men perished but himself. With an account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by pyrates. Dritte Auflage. London, 1719.
  32. https://archive.org/details/surgionsmateortr00wood/page/184/mode/2up?q=scurvy Iohn Woodall: The Svrgions Mate, or a treatise discouering faithfully and plainely the due contents of the Svrgions chest, the vses of the instruments, the vertues and operations of the medicines, the cures of the most frequent diseases at sea: namely wounds, apostumes, vlcers, fistulaes, fractures, dislocations, with the true maner of amputation, the cure of scuruie, the fluxes of the belly, of the collica and the illiaca paßio, tenasmus, and exitus ani, the callenture; with a briefe explanation of sal, sulphur, and mercury; with certaine characters, and tearmes of arte. Published chiefly for the benefit of young sea-surgions, imployed in the East-India Companies affaires. London, 1617.
  33. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puncheon_(unit) Puncheon (unit).
  34. https://www.dict.cc/?s=pale pale.
  35. David Wondrich & Noah Rothbaum: The Oxford companion to spirits & cocktails. ISBN 9780199311132. Oxford University Press, 2022.
  36. https://archive.org/details/gri_33125008243368/page/n607/mode/2up?q=follepons Anonymus: Johan Nieuhofs gedenkweerdige brasiliaense zee- en lantreize. Behelzende al het geen op dezelve is voorgevallen. Beneffens een bondige beschrijving van gantsch Neerlants Brasil, zoo van lantschappen, steden, dieren, gewassen, als draghten, zeden en godsdienst der inwoonders: En inzonderheit ein wijtloopig verhael der merkwaardigste voorvallen en geschiedenissen, die zich, geduurende zijn negenjarigh verblijf in Brasil, in d’oorlogen en opstant der Portugesen tegen d’onzen, zich sedert het jaer 1640. tot 1649. hebben toegedragen. Doorgaens verciert met verscheide afbeeldingen na ‘t leven aldaer getekent. Amsterdam, 1682
  37. https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_5ewpAAAAYAAJ/page/172/mode/2up?q=ponze Christoph Langhanß: Neue Ost Indische Reise. Leipzig, 1705.

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Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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