Poll: How Shall I Spike Richard Barthelmess’s Punch?

Summer is rapidly approaching and I want to take the opportunity to feature some warm weather recipes from the 1929 Photoplay Cookbook. How does some nice punch strike you? (“How would you like a nice Hawaiian Punch?”) However, this particular recipe has a small mystery attached to it.

As the cookbook was published at the height of Prohibition, the punch recipe features fruits and juices and tea and ice but no alcohol. It is described as “censor proof” and anyone preparing it is advised that they must use their imagination to supply any additional ingredients.

Well! Richard Barthelmess, I am SHOCKED!

I thought it would be fun to have you, dear readers, decide on these ingredients. I have prepared a poll that will include assorted 1929-illegal beverages that were common punch ingredients. (For what it’s worth, my father– born 1941– tells me that his high school class would spike their punch with rum, which the girls concealed in their petticoats. Ah, the innocent fifties!) I have not found many period recipes that call for gin in punch (though there are a few) but I included it as an option because, come on, it’s the 1920s, how could I not?

Vote for as many or as few choices as you like. All ingredients that get 60% or more “YES” votes will be included in the punch. And if the “NONE” option gets 80% of the votes, I will drink the punch in a manner that would be approved by Will Hays himself.

In the interest of giving you as much information as possible for this important decision, the punch ingredients that are named are pineapple, bananas, strawberries, oranges, lemons, “unfermented” grape juice, tea and sugar.

Remember, you can check as many boxes as you like.

If you have trouble seeing the poll, here is a direct link.

Thanks so much for assisting with this scandalous decision. (And SHAME ON YOU!)


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  1. Katie M

    I’m APPALLED that you’re considering the demon drink! As both a lifelong teetotaler and a law-abiding, RED-BLOODED American, I must say NONE!

    (I do not in fact drink alcohol, so I have no idea how any of those taste. I voted none, but don’t let me stop you 😉)

  2. Marie Roget

    I remember my great-aunt’s Thérèse’ remark about the Volstead Act and all the resultant illegal imbibing Stateside. “Weren’t the Americans odd,” she told us. They made a law forbidding wine and spirits which serve to make us happy. They are medicinal and help out in the kitchen so much. No wonder nobody liked that law!”

    And can help out in a Barthelmess punch bowl, as well (our family inherited Thérèse’ cut glass punch bowl, ladle, and 12 cups- gorgeous). My great-aunt loved a light brandy for cooking and sparkling wine for imbibing, so am voting for those 🙂

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Hurrah for your great-aunt! Yes, you can drink it, you can cook with it, it’s just all-around useful. (Obviously, nothing wrong with not indulging but Prohibition clearly only benefited organized crime. And my grandfather, who repaired bootlegger cars for cash.)

      I also think there’s a clue in the recipe. If this is a “wink, wink” recipe then we can take “unfermented grape juice” to mean the exact opposite!

  3. Scott Lueck

    After watching “The Lost Weekend” this morning, I honestly don’t want to touch another drop of alcohol as long as I live for fear of falling down stairs, getting locked in a drunk ward and having Jane Wyman as a girlfriend. But I digress.

    (I gave up alcohol years ago, but voted for the hint you discussed. The ingredients you mention just scream “wine cooler”.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol myself (a glass of wine every few weeks, a martini a couple of times a year) so I definitely plan to be judicious with my portions. Plus, why include all that delicious fruit and then overwhelm it?

  4. Shari Polikoff

    I’m not a mixologist, just a Barthelmess fan, so I’d put in some purplish-dark wine as a tribute to our hero’s beautiful dark eyes.

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