The kids have gone back to school, the farmers’ market is in full fall flourish, Krishana Collins and her crew are arranging flowers as fast as their fingers can fly, and you can’t book a caterer on a Saturday until month’s end. It’s September and the wedding season is upon us.

For some, weddings may mean champagne toasts and lengthy best man’s speeches, but for old-school folks, it’s all about the punch. Not that awful concoction that some may remember from college days, but a seriously crafted blending of fruit and alcohol.

Punch first appeared in English documents in 1632, but the idea began earlier on the Indian subcontinent. Punch (from the Hindi pãc and Sanskrit pañca, meaning “five”) was originally a beverage of five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and spices or tea. When rum from the Caribbean came into common usage, it became one of the key ingredients in many punches. Barbados’s classic rum punch recipe became a well-known rhyme: One of sour / Two of sweet / Three of strong / Four of weak. The sour, sweet, strong, and weak are, respectively, lime juice, sugar, rum, and water or fruit juice.

Many of the classic punches are alcohol-heavy lethal concoctions, like Savannah’s Chatham Artillery Punch that mixes rum, brandy, bourbon, and champagne. Jaime Hamlin, of V. Jaime Hamlin and Sons Catering & Party Design, proposes a lighter libation – one that mixes the champagne wishes with punch traditions. Just remember to savor the special moment – and use crystal punch cups, please.

Jaime Hamlin’s Midnight Punch

  • 1 cup cognac
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup simple syrup
  • 3 bottles of “decent” champagne
  • Strawberries or fresh seasonal fruit for the ice mold (optional)

1. Prepare ice mold in advance by placing the fruit in a mold, adding water, and freezing solid.

2. Place punch ingredients in a punch bowl. Add the ice mold and serve immediately.