Launching in time for London Fashion Week last month, The London EDITION editl has already established itself as the new place to eat, drink, and be merry in London. Alongside its grand foyer bar and elegantly presented dining room sits the Punch Room, a small den with plenty of gentlemen’s club charm. Dramatically low lighting brings out the best of the leather chairs, oak panelling, and Victorian tchotchke, while the fireplace hints at long winter evenings sipping one of the bar’s signature punches, intended for sharing.
The word punch originally derives from the Hindi word panch, meaning five, and indeed the concoction was once made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water and tea or spices. Introduced to the UK by British sailors travelling to India in the 17th century, punch has ever since been imbibed under a variety of guises – from the non-alcoholic type found at children’s parties, to the very-much alcoholic brew found at Christmas celebrations. According to American film legend, punch is also the communal drink that is invariably spiked with cheap booze at the high school prom.
At the Edition Hotel Punch Room however, the focus is on the drink’s pre-modern pedigree. Served in antique silver punchbowls, concoctions are brought to the table and ladled out by the host, a less alcoholic cocktail of sorts and replete with seasonal garnishes.
"The word punch originally derives from the Hindi word panch, meaning five, as the concoction was once made with five ingredients"
The robust and richly-coloured Occident Meets Orient is a combination of Maker’s Mark bourbon, lemon juice, Darjeeling and caraway tea and blackberry puree. While the classic Punch à la Romaine – famously served on the Titanic – has been updated yet still retains its delicate effervescence. More unusual mixtures include the historic milk punch, made with three types of rum, Somerset cider, spices and clarified milk. Punch of the day gives the bartenders the opportunity to experiment with the well-stocked bar, and when we last visited the mixture was strawberry liquor, Tanqueray gin, jasmine tea, and lemon and sage sherbet. As with cocktails, punch can include lesser-known liquors, as well as ones you wouldn’t dream of drinking on their own.
Sliders and other small bar snacks are available, and the den has proved a popular pre- and post-dinner spot for visitors to Berners Tavern, Edition’s dining room headed up by chef Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social fame. The bartender tells us that there is no “vertical” drinking at the Punch Room, meaning you have to be a hotel resident, make a reservation, or be lucky with a walk-in on a less busy evening. Expect hot punches this winter and reserve your space next to the roaring fire.
The Punch Room is open every day from 5pm-1am at The London EDITION. 10 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NP.
Text by Ananda Pellerin