punch bowl with two glasses and a ladle

Drinking punch in the 18th century

Punch was one of the most popular alcoholic beverages of the 18th century. Most punch mixtures at this time were based on Caribbean rum or French brandy and had lemon or lime juice, sugar, water and spices added. They were very similar to a fruit punch that we might drink today and were the forerunners of many of today's cocktails. 

Punch would be served in a large bowl like the one here and poured into the individual glasses using the ladle. It would normally be available in coffee houses, clubs or at society gatherings, which were mainly attended by men. The bowls often had commemorative decoration on relating to ships, guilds or societies.

These items, which are not currently on display, are from the Decorative Art collection at the Walker Art Gallery.

  • Punch bowl: tin-glazed earthenware, made in Liverpool about 1745-1770.
    Accession number 50.60.43
  • Ladle:  silver and whalebone, probably made in England about 1775-1800.
    Accession number 59.32.106
  • Glass (left):  lead glass, made in England about 1760-1775.
    Accession number 49.18.100
  • Glass (right): lead glass, made in England about 1760-1770.
    Accession number 49.18.90