Friday, February 1, 2019

Bottle Swap: Swedish Punsch

Swedish Punsch

It's time for part two of my latest Bottle Swap with Mr. Muddle! Last month we traded half a bottle of St. George Spiced Pear liqueur and it's become one of my favorite ingredients since then. Today we have a bottle I've been curious about for a long time: Swedish Punsch.

Punch was a big thing back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Individual cocktails were not the norm - if you wanted to go drinking with your friends, you'd get a big bowl of punch to share. This was usually made with rum or arrack and flavored with sugar, fruit juice, and spices. Swedish Punsch was a particular recipe that originated in - you guessed it - Sweden, when the Swedish East India Company began importing arrack from Southeast Asia in 1733. It was often served hot, which is a bit unique for a punch (but understandable given the climate in Sweden).

Swedish Punsch

Punch was popular enough across Europe that many distilleries began bottling pre-mixed punches. Swedish Punsch was no exception, and the first bottled Swedish Punsch was created in the 1840's. It was popular enough that bottles of it ended up in the US and England, where enterprising bartenders began using it in cocktails. Prohibition and World War II limited its availability and, like many unique spirits from this time, it all but disappeared on the international stage. With the revived interest in classic cocktails, Kronan began bottling and exporting Swedish Punsch in 2012.

So what's in a bottle of Swedish Punsch? It's a blend of both arrack (a Southeast Asian spirit made from red rice and/or sugarcane) and Caribbean rum, along with citrus, spices, and sugar. It's essentially a bottled cocktail that you can enjoy on the rocks as-is. The label boasts "notes of rich toffee, smoke, molasses, and leather." These flavors are definitely all there, but I'd say the smoke and leather take a backseat to the bright toffee sweetness, spice, and classic "funk" you'd expect from a Jamaican rum.

Swedish Punsch

Alcohol Content: 26%
Price: $30
Popular Cocktails: Doctor Cocktail, Havana, Waldorf

Swedish Punsch

After reading about Swedish Punsch I was intrigued by the Doctor Cocktail, one of the simplest and best-known Swedish Punsch drinks. It's essentially a Daiquiri that uses Swedish Punsch instead of a sweetener. I also enjoyed reading Fred Yarm's writeup on Cocktail Virgin Slut, which includes some advice on what other flavors work well with Swedish Punsch. I decided to mash-up the Doctor Cocktail with a well-known Tiki drink, the Jungle Bird, to make a Doctor Bird. This is the local name of the national bird of Jamaica, a beautiful hummingbird with an incredibly long tail (and the subject of my undergraduate thesis research). I love the way this drink came out. It's bright and tropical with a hint of bitterness. It's also a lovely shade of orange!

Don't forget to head over to Mr. Muddle's blog and check out his Swedish Punsch drink, the Field Promotion!

Swedish Punsch

Doctor Bird

1 1/2 oz. Plantation Pineapple Rum
1 oz. Swedish Punsch
1/2 oz. Aperol
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. Demerara syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a slice of pineapple.

Historical information came from Cocktail Virgin Slut and Punch.


  1. Aww, this made me so nostalgic! I mashed up the Doctor with cherry heering and Swedish punsch for my own version at my graduation party after getting my doctorate. So tasty. I look forward to trying your version!

    1. What a great memory! Cherry Heering seems like it would be really good with Swedish Punsch, I'll have to try it! Cheers!

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