Throughout the 1600’s until the end of the end of the nineteenth century punches were served at parties and taverns throughout Europe and the Americas.
Punches were usually made up with a few base spirits such as rum, whiskey or brandy along with other local ingredients for flavor. A lot of times the quality of the spirits varied from either poor to very good so make the drink more palatable, various seasonal fruits and herbs were added. Punches had fallen out of favor with the rise of cocktails and by the twentieth had became a thing of the past.
Punches are back in fashion and are a great communal drink for friends, family, customers and are relatively easy to put together with just a few base spirits along fruits and can be served either hot or cold. A few punches that I enjoy are a French 75 punch, Cinnamon warmer and Fish house Punch and the later dates back to 1732 from the province of Schuylkill, which is now Pennsylvania.
I recommend reading the book Punches by David Wondrich. It gives you a helping hand with ideas for creating a drink for your guests and takes the work out of bartending and more time for socializing with your company.