“LIQUEURS WITH THE LADIES AFTER DINNER”: PUNCH RITUALS IN DOMESTIC PUBLICS DURING THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY
Daniels, Catherine Denise
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Throughout the eighteenth-century, punch drinking was incredibly popular among groups of men. Sharing a bowl of punch with one’s associates created a bond of fraternity. In fact the punch bowl itself, with its wide brim and elaborate decoration, symbolized conviviality. But while men were enjoying this drink in public, they also imbibed in the home where women partook in the ritual. Because of the communal and genial nature of the flowing bowl, these gatherings created domestic publics, a space which defied the traditional public and private spheres. There are several artifacts which may provide examples of domestic punch consumption in the eighteenth-century. Cookbooks, illustrations and prints, and punch bowls and punch pots can provide some insight into the ritual in the home. After examining these artifacts, one can clearly see that women participated in the punch ritual in the home. Martha Washington, for example, often served punch to guests at Mount Vernon. Punch had the ability to temporarily blur the traditional public and private spheres of men and women and create a space in which both groups were briefly bound by the convivial spirit of the drink.