Drinking is so much more than what is actually going in your mouth. Yes, the flavor profile and type of drink is important and is vastly different from person to person, but a huge part of cocktail culture is the social aspect and the environment in which we drink.
For instance, envision yourself in these three scenarios… drinking a glass of wine on Friday night by your fireplace while watching your favorite movie after a long work week, sipping on a glass of wine during an awkward first date, enjoying a glass of wine from the open bar at your best friend’s wedding. In all three situations what you’re drinking is the same - wine - but each would feel very different and impact your experience.
Drinking is quite often a social activity, it brings people together and no place does it quite like Punch Bowl Social.
This chain, located in eleven different cities across the US brings social drinking to a whole new level and when I set foot inside the Indianapolis establishment I was giddy to say the least. The crash of the bowling lanes is what first grabbed my attention but it fought to keep it as my eyes dashed around the massive establishment to all of the other activities offered: shuffleboard, darts, ping pong, billiards, foosball, bocce ball, 80’s arcade, corn hole, and giant wall scrabble. As if these weren’t enough they also had private karaoke rooms and a wide variety of table games like large table Jenga, Cards Against Humanity, Mouse Trap and other board and card games. The vibe is very rustic chic with antler chandeliers and bright turquoise leather bar chairs. They are massive buildings and somehow balance feeling open yet cozy and homey.
If you aren’t already looking into your closest location, just wait until you hear whats on the menu. Punch Bowl lives up to it’s name by serving signature punches delivered to your table in antique bowls with mismatched glass tea-cups. Bowls can be made for 4 or 8 people - We had a group of six and ordered two “4 person bowls” so we could have different types of punch. Now, this is not your average Jungle Juice, we’re talking craft punch. My favorite? “Kings Cup”. It’s a punch crafted from Coconut rum, Bacardi Rum, McClary Bro’s Pineapple Fennel Seed Shrub, White Pear Fuji Apple Tea, Lime Juice. It was unlike any punch I’ve ever had due to it’s complex flavors. Their punch menu also includes:
It’s a Mer-Man’s World -Old Forester Bourbon, Teakoe’s Pineapple Papaya Tea, Cardamom Syrup, Bacardi 8 year aged rum, and lime juice
The Watermelon Polo Bowl - El Jimador Reposado Tequila, Teakoe’s Watermelon Spearmint Tea, Watermelon Shrub, Strawberry Syrup, and lime juice
These three make up their standard menu and then they always have a featured punch as well. The night I was there it was a gin and lavender based feature. Our group was really struggling to make a commitment on a punch, after all you’re getting a big batch! The server was extremely helpful and even brought samples for us to try. We ended up choosing the Kings Cup and Mer-Man’s World with a side of Cards Against Humanity.
If the punch flavors aren’t tripping your trigger or if you’re in a smaller group they also have a single-serving cocktail menu that includes old classics, uniquely crafted, adult milkshakes, and for the brunch lovers - breakfast cocktails. One that takes the cake is their “Beets Me” cocktail which won the PBS Best of the Bowl Competition in Denver and contains Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Beet Syrup, White Pear Fuji Apple Tea, Fresh Lemon Juice, Chambord.
Don’t worry if these off the wall drinks aren’t your thing - they have a full bar and plenty of draft and canned beers as well. Or if alcohol isn’t your thing but you want to partake in the fun atmosphere they have a wide menu of fresh juices, milkshakes, and homemade sodas.
Drinks and games aren’t the only thing that Punch Bowl Social does well, their food menu is just as drool worthy. With a HUGE menu of breakfast, appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and main dishes it’s hard not to find something to munch on. The menu has a bit of a southern flare while maintaining unique class. One of my favorite sharing dishes were the lobster bacon fries - house cut fries, fresh poached lobster, creme fruit, tender belly bacon, green onion, cheddar cheese and chives.