Punch Drunk

Four Interpretations of a Traditional Tipple

For those who are curious, here’s a brief history of alcoholic punch: The drink stems from a traditional Indian concoction of five simple ingredients— alcohol, lemon, sugar, water, and spices—named pañc, the Sanskrit
word for “five.” The British East India Company brought the drink westward, where it eventually morphed into rum punch in Jamaica in the mid-17th century. Now, in the Hamptons, these punches offer four different modern renditions of this age-old drink, each with a style and recipe of its own.

Jue Lan Club (268 Elm St., Southampton)
As indicated by its name that translates to “determination to create change,” nightlife hotspot Jue Lan Club is not for the faint of heart. It was opened last year by the glitzy Philippe Chow group as a sister locale to the original Flatiron Jue Lan in Manhattan and instantly became a lightning rod for those who like to incorporate the finer things in life into their party habits. It was designed to feel like a modern voyeurism into the lives of the original Jue Lan Society, a secret group of 14 Chinese artists who fled communist China in the 1930s to experience the throes of Paris’s thriving art heyday.

Here, the menu recalls their mainland roots; the art, their boundary-pushing aesthetic; and the cocktail culture, the riotous nightlife of Paris at that time. In a space filled with museum-worthy works by the likes of Keith Haring and Mark Kostabi, diners munch on dim sum and classic Chinese mains made with a “farm-to-chopsticks” ethos and sip on any one of the myriad cocktails, most with Asian twists—sake martinis, gin sours shaken with matcha green tea, and the Planters Punch, a strong concoction of Kraken Black Spiced
Rum, citrus juices, and pomegranate grenadine. It’s a perfect pregame for the Barn, an adjoining late-night club that attracts well-known DJs and art world glitterati.

 

Union Cantina (40 Bowden Square, Southampton)
Also in its sophomore year is Union Cantina, a farm-to-table Mexican joint in the heart of Southampton. It made a name for itself last year with its menu that gracefully upgrades dishes traditionally found in Mexican pulqueria bars with quality ingredients and fresh interpretations (think a striped bass “deconstructed” enchilada and beef short ribs in mole sauce with cornbread pudding). In addition to an airy patio and rustic dining room, there are no less than three bars in the space, making it equally as appealing as a watering hole as it is a dining spot.

Among the three is 400 Rabbits, set in a part of the restaurant that was once a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Its concept stems from a Mexican folk tale, in which a love affair between the goddess of the agave plant and god of pulque resulted in the birth of 400 rabbits that became the gods of drunkenness. In tribute, this bar houses an impressive library of more than 100 different tequilas, which can be sipped neat or in any number of cocktails. However, keeping in mind that the agave-based liquor isn’t for everyone, the menu also offers delicious other options that are sure to get imbibers equally juiced. There’s the Charro of prosecco mixed with vanilla-infused mango puree, the bourbon-based 65 Mustang with apple cider and cinnamon, or the Punch de Leon of Bacardi Oakheart (a spiced version of the name-brand drink), fruit punch from Mexican brand Jarriots, pineapple, and a splash of bitters to off set the sweetness.

 

Rumba (43 Canoe Place Rd., Hampton Bays)
At Rumba, perhaps the only thing as stunning as the panoramic view of Shinnecock Bay is the Caribbean Rum Punch, a tropical booze cruise of light and dark rums, orange curaçao, and pineapple, orange, and lime juices all mixed together in a mason jar. Couple the drink with the relaxed vibes of this stalwart Caribbean island-themed hideout—reggae beats, fruit baskets, fresh breeze, and all—and you’ll quickly be transported to a “don’t worry, be happy” state of mind.

Recalling the rum bars that dot the white sands of the Caribbean Sea, Rumba feels a world away from its East End locale, with a menu of tropical favorites (heavy on sh, jerk and spiced meats, and accessories like passion fruit aioli and “rasta cream”), friendly bartenders, and prices that are unexpectedly low for this part of the state, further reduced during weekday happy hours. Live music throughout the summer adds to Rumba’s appeal, drawing in crowds looking to take a break from more trendy spots on the Hamptons scene and kick back in tees and ip- ops for an evening. Think of it as a vacation while on vacation.

 

Beach Club at Gurney’s (290 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk)
For a cheeky afternoon dip and drink, head to the Beach Club at Gurney’s Montauk Resort. You don’t need to have a key card to one of the resort’s 146 chic rooms to post up here on in the sands of a 2,000-foot-long private beach where waves crash and a Vilebrequin-clad crowd whiles away the time sipping champagne and oysters in equal measure. With the thick-striped, cabana-shaded daybeds, fresh seafood, and sun- soaked people watching, it’s all very South of France meets Meatpacking, complete with D.J.’s that start spinning mid-afternoon.

There is, of course, bottle service with numerous ne spirits on offer, while the cocktail menu boasts a range of summery options. However, there’s a reason the resort leant its name to the punch option. Based with Mount Gay Black Barrel, a premium rum, the Gurney’s Punch mixes in pineapple, orange, and cranberry juices and grenadine for a concoction that is substantial but potent—an ideal balance to set one’s day o on the right track. Depending on the imbiber or the day—the Beach Club is grounds from a regular roster of fashionable events and day parties—the punch can easily lead to pre- sunset dancing or a heavenly sun-dappled nap.