Picon Punch – Original Recipe & History

Original Picon Punch
Original Picon Punch

The History Of The Picon Punch.

If you have not heard of this, it’s not surprising. It’s primarily made in the western side of the United States and is popular in parts of California and Nevada with large Basque immigrant populations. If you go to Basque areas in northern Spain, they will have no idea what this is. Most of the histories I have found on this credit its creation to the Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield, California. Although I think that was more just a story used by the hotel. The earliest printed reference of the Picon Punch is from the 1900 book “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bartender” by William Boothby of San Francisco, California. It’s the first recipe listed in “miscellaneous and unclassified drinks” and is called an Amer Picon. The drink is labeled as already being a popular beverage in France, and that makes a lot more sense to me than it was invented in Bakersfield, California, during the end of the 19th century. The part I found most difficult to imagine was that a small hotel in Bakersfield was using grenadine before 1900.

The most popular red fruit syrup in the US before 1900 was raspberry syrup. William Boothby was the first American bartender to print recipes using grenadine. Grenadine first started being used in France and England around 1890; in his 1891 edition of the book, the Amer Picon cocktail does not use grenadine but orgeat. The change from orgeat to grenadine makes sense, too, with grenadine’s explosive popularity in France during that decade. Check out my grenadine article for its history and use in cocktails.

The hotel was founded in 1893, so that would have given them plenty of time to use Amer Picon before it stopped being imported to the US in 1920, but I don’t buy that it was invented there. The use of grenadine and references to its recipe many years before its origin story says it was created point to it being traditionally a French cocktail.

What Does The Picon Punch Taste Like?

I will say that using grenadine instead of orgeat was the right choice. The drink is still good, but the later grenadine version is better. While the grenadine version is like an herbal pomegranate flavored soda, this one has a nutty flavor that doesn’t balance the herbal flavors, and the fruity grenadine does. If the nuttier flavor sounds better to you, try this one. Keep in mind this is just one person’s opinion.

Amer Picon is still not imported into the US, so this is made now with substitutes. Also, Amer Picon isn’t made the same today as during the turn of the century. The alcohol content is different, and so is the flavor. It used to be around 40% abv, and today it’s 18%, and the taste has been updated for modern palates, so basically, it’s an entirely different ingredient other than the name. You’ll never be able to recreate this drink in its original form completely, so find a bittersweet/orangey aperitif you like. Even if you get an actual bottle of Amer Picon from France, it won’t taste like old Amer Picon anyway.

Recipe Resources

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Picon Punch (Original Recipe)

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: French
Servings

1

servings
Calories

227

kcal
ABV

15%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a classic 1800s style Picon Punch.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz Orgeat

  • 2 oz Amer Picon

  • 2 oz Soda Water

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients except for the soda water into the serving glass with ice.
  • Stir and combine those ingredients together while also chilling them.
  • Lastly add the soda water.

Notes

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Picon Punch – Modern Variation

Picon Punch Strong
Picon Punch Strong

The History Of The Picon Punch.

If you have not heard of this, it’s not surprising. It’s primarily made in the western side of the United States and is popular in parts of California and Nevada with large Basque immigrant populations. If you go to Basque areas in northern Spain, they will have no idea what this is. Most of the histories I have found on this credit its creation to the Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield, California. Although I think that was more just a story used by the hotel. The earliest printed reference of the Picon Punch is from the 1900 book “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bartender” by William Boothby of San Francisco, California. It’s the first recipe listed in “miscellaneous and unclassified drinks” and is called an Amer Picon. The drink is labeled as already being a popular beverage in France, and that makes a lot more sense to me than it was invented in Bakersfield, California, during the end of the 19th century. The part I found most difficult to imagine was that a small hotel in Bakersfield was using grenadine before 1900.

The most popular red fruit syrup in the US before 1900 was raspberry syrup. William Boothby was the first American bartender to print recipes using grenadine. Grenadine first started being used in France and England around 1890; in his 1891 edition of the book, the Amer Picon cocktail does not use grenadine but orgeat. The change from orgeat to grenadine makes sense, too, with grenadine’s explosive popularity in France during that decade. Check out my grenadine article for its history and use in cocktails.

The hotel was founded in 1893, so that would have given them plenty of time to use Amer Picon before it stopped being imported to the US in 1920, but I don’t buy that it was invented there. The use of grenadine and references to its recipe many years before its origin story says it was created point to it being traditionally a French cocktail.

This is not the classic Picon Punch, but a strong variation served without ice in a cocktail glass. Both the traditional and this version are delicious, but they have different intents. This strong version transforms the refreshing Picon Punch into a classic-style cocktail.

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Picon Punch (Strong Recipe)

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

227

kcal
ABV

23%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the a Picon Punch Strong.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz Grenadine

  • 2 oz Amer Picon

  • 2/3 oz Brandy

  • 1 oz Soda Water

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients except for the soda water in a separate mixing glass with ice.
  • Stir and combine those ingredients. Pour into the serving glass.
  • Lastly add the soda water.

Notes

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Make Cocktails Like A Pro

If you have ever struggled with a recipe or wonder why yours are not turning out like they do at the bar then check out my simple step-by-step videos. I will walk you through how to expertly build each drink so you get consistently great results.

  • Free and simple step by step videos.
  • Tips and tricks from years of experience.
  • Historically accurate and balanced recipes.


Picon Punch – Classic Recipe & History

Picon Punch
Picon Punch

The History Of The Picon Punch.

If you have not heard of this, it’s not surprising. It’s primarily made in the western side of the United States and is popular in parts of California and Nevada with large Basque immigrant populations. If you go to Basque areas in northern Spain, they will have no idea what this is. Most of the histories I have found on this credit its creation to the Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield, California. Although I think that was more just a story used by the hotel. The earliest printed reference of the Picon Punch is from the 1900 book “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bartender” by William Boothby of San Francisco, California. It’s the first recipe listed in “miscellaneous and unclassified drinks” and is called an Amer Picon. The drink is labeled as already being a popular beverage in France, and that makes a lot more sense to me than it was invented in Bakersfield, California, during the end of the 19th century. The part I found most difficult to imagine was that a small hotel in Bakersfield was using grenadine before 1900.

The most popular red fruit syrup in the US before 1900 was raspberry syrup. William Boothby was the first American bartender to print recipes using grenadine. Grenadine first started being used in France and England around 1890; in his 1891 edition of the book, the Amer Picon cocktail does not use grenadine but orgeat. The change from orgeat to grenadine makes sense, too, with grenadine’s explosive popularity in France during that decade. Check out my grenadine article for its history and use in cocktails.

The hotel was founded in 1893, so that would have given them plenty of time to use Amer Picon before it stopped being imported to the US in 1920, but I don’t buy that it was invented there. The use of grenadine and references to its recipe many years before its origin story says it was created point to it being traditionally a French cocktail.

What Does The Picon Punch Taste Like?

This is a refreshing, lightly sweet, fruity, and herbal cocktail. It’s a lot of flavors that don’t sound like they should work together, but they do. It’s like an herbal pomegranate flavored soda, but it’s hard to describe and is one you need to try. While the garnish can be essential in cocktails (Some are purely decorative), it is necessary for this cocktail. The lemon oil on top took this cocktail from being just ok to being good. Also, the Aperitif you use makes a huge difference so get one you like to drink straight. I used Amaro Nonino, which turned out great, but Amaro Nonino is pretty pricey, so if you want another one, give that a try.

A substitute aperitif has to be used because Amer Picon is not imported into the US and has not been since prohibition. Also, Amer Picon isn’t made the same today as during the turn of the century. The alcohol content is different, and so is the flavor. It used to be around 40% abv, and today it’s 18%, and the taste has been updated for modern palates, so it’s an entirely different drink other than the name. You’ll never be able to recreate this drink in its original form completely, so find a bittersweet/orangey aperitif you like.

Recipe Resources

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Download The Official Vintage American Cocktails App

Discover what classic cocktails you can make right now with the ingredients you have. Check out the Vintage American Cocktail app.

Picon Punch (Classic Recipe)

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

227

kcal
ABV

15%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the a Picon Punch.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz Grenadine

  • 2 oz Amer Picon

  • 2 oz Soda Water

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients except for the soda water into the serving glass with ice.
  • Stir and combine those ingredients together while also chilling them.
  • Lastly add the soda water.
  • Garnish with an expressed lemon peel.

Notes

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Make Cocktails Like A Pro

If you have ever struggled with a recipe or wonder why yours are not turning out like they do at the bar then check out my simple step-by-step videos. I will walk you through how to expertly build each drink so you get consistently great results.

  • Free and simple step by step videos.
  • Tips and tricks from years of experience.
  • Historically accurate and balanced recipes.


Brooklyn Cocktail – Classic Recipe

Brooklyn Cocktail
Brooklyn Cocktail

As Biggie-Smalls said, “Where Brooklyn At?! Where Brooklyn At?!” If you’re looking for the Brooklyn cocktail, it’s right here, but this drink could easily have been lost and forgotten. Unfortunately, this drink was never as popular as its’ other New York cocktail buddies, the Manhattan or Bronx, and once prohibition came along, history mostly forgot about the Brooklyn.

The main reason people probably stopped making it is one of the main ingredients, Amer Picon, stopped being imported into the United States a long time ago. It is still manufactured but can only be purchased in Europe. Amer Picon is a kind of an herbaly, orangy, bitter/sweetish digestive bitter. I really wanted to include this cocktail so in place of Amer Picon you can try using Amaro Nonino. At about 50 clams a bottle so it’s pretty pricy but at least it can be purchased.

As a side note, if you live outside the USA, then none of this substitution stuff matters, but I think around 80-85% of my users live in the US, so that’s the audience I try to write a bit more to.

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Download The Official Vintage American Cocktails App

Discover what classic cocktails you can make right now with the ingredients you have. Check out the Vintage American Cocktail app.

Brooklyn Cocktail

3 from 1 vote Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

181

kcal
ABV

35%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the Brooklyn Cocktail. An amazing pre-prohibition cocktail that is all but forgotten since the loss of Amer Picon in the United States.

Ingredients

  • 3 dashes Amer Picon

  • 1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur

  • 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth

  • 2 oz Brandy

Directions

  • Add Ice To Mixing Glass and combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 20 – 30 seconds to properly chill and dilute the drink.
  • Strain into glass.

Notes

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Make Cocktails Like A Pro

If you have ever struggled with a recipe or wonder why yours are not turning out like they do at the bar then check out my simple step-by-step videos. I will walk you through how to expertly build each drink so you get consistently great results.

  • Free and simple step by step videos.
  • Tips and tricks from years of experience.
  • Historically accurate and balanced recipes.