Punch, a compound liquor, much used in Britain, but more frequently in Jamaica, and other parts of the West Indies.—The basis of this beverage ought to be good spring-water; which, being being rendered cool, brisk, acidulated with lemon-juice, and sweetened with fine sugar, forms an agreeable and wholesome drink, called sherbet:—on adding a proper quantity of brandy, rum, or arrack, the composition is then de-nominated Punch.
The proportions of the ingredients employed in making this favourite liquor, are various: in general, however, it acquires a proper degree of strength by combining four or five parts of water, with one of ardent spirit; but, in the summer season, a larger proportion of the former fluid may be used with advantage. Some persons substitute the juice of limes for that of lemons ; but, in our opinion, the latter acid is not only milder, but also less injurious to the bowels.—See Limes.
Punch, used with moderation, may occasionally serve as a diuretic; but, for this purpose, it should be made weak, and unusually acid. If, at any period of the year, such beverage be proper or harmless, it will be so in hot weather : when, according to Dr. Short, it tends to lessen the effects of febrile heat, and hard labour upon the body ; dilutes the fluids, promotes perspiration, and is said tobe well calculated to resist infection. In short, punch is supposed to be of considerable service in preventing the hurtful effects of a moist and cold atmosphere, of pestilential vapours, of unclean occupations, of a damp military camp, and sometimes, too, of a temporary abstinence from food: but it should never be resorted to by the nervous, delicate, or invalid, as a substitute for wine; in which cases it will prove a liquid poison.