Cocktail trends: Punch bowls

Brian Lindamood, Columbus Alive

Classic and contemporary collide at The Pearl, Cameron Mitchell's stylish new gastropub. The comfy leather booths and painted brick walls look like they've been there forever, trapped in some kind of vintage-tavern time warp where hand-cranked sausage and chicken-wing confit have always been in style.

The cocktail list is equally timeless, inspired by the classics but with a nod to the trends being stirred up in big-city speakeasies: barrel-aged Manhattans, house-made infusions and an extensive collection of bitters.

One trend in particular is worth sharing. Actually, it's meant to be shared: Punches, which come in single-serving Mason jars ($10) or in punch bowls for four ($38), complete with the little glass cups you remember from your grandma's pinochle parties.

In fact, the Bourbon Apple Punch would be perfect at a party-smooth, a little sweet and very easy to drink. Just a hint of Bulleit Bourbon deceptively wilts behind autumnal spices and the crisp apple flavor of local cider.

The Citrus Punch is sweeter, with a bright burst of lemon and orange that's balanced by a touch of anise flavor from absinthe. You might not even notice the Ketel One Citroen until your table orders a second bowl-and you start to feel it. Unlike a cocktail, where the booze does the driving, in punches the liquor takes a back seat to smooth, friendly flavors.

And more flavors are on the way. Though just two are on the menu now, The Pearl has developed a dozen punch recipes, with plans to rotate them seasonally. Expect to see a rum punch soon-just in time for summer sharing.

The Pearl

641 N. High St., Short North