Celebrate Valentine’s Day with punch bowls for one, two or more

The Old One Two punch bowl at the Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

If you’re the sort of person who appreciates flowers and a thoughtful gesture on Valentine’s Day, a punch bowl for two could be the perfect start to a romantic evening. Or maybe Valentine’s Day is just another Hallmark holiday, and Tuesday is just another Tuesday. If that’s the case, a punch bowl could be an excellent prelude to an evening of early-week debauchery. Any way you look at it, with a punch bowl, everybody wins.

A punch bowl, for those who have yet to experience the massive cocktail, is a large bowl of alcohol, usually more than one kind, and various mixers in the form of fruit juice and/or cordials. By design, it’s meant for more than one person. And it’s a lot more fun than two flutes of Champagne or a bottle of wine.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, you could make the Scorpion Bowl from the Pacific Seas tiki bar at Clifton’s, the downtown L.A. cafeteria, or the Old One Two from the Spare Room, the bar with the bowling alley at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, for your significant other. Both venues are known for their punch bowls and their quiet, dark corners, where you can sip and canoodle to your heart’s content.


The Scorpion Bowl, the stronger of the two punches, is a combination of cognac, gin and light rum, with orange juice, lime juice and orgeat. It’s a citrus-forward cocktail slashed with three strong liquors, each balanced and curbed by the orange juice.

If you happen to have a tiki-style bowl with a center cup for a flaming crouton or lime peel, by all means serve your Scorpion Bowl with a little fire, like they do at Clifton’s. Use lemon extract for an orange flame or a little Bacardi 151 if you want your flame to burn blue. And for a finishing touch, sprinkle a little cinnamon on the flame to make it sparkle. Just think of all this fire as a nod to a flame burning with eternal love, or to your inner pyromaniac. You could also skip the candles and have a quiet dinner, lighted only by punch bowl light.

The Old One Two is a little mellower, made with cognac, berries, lemon juice and sugar, then topped with Champagne. Just be sure to make a show of the Champagne — maybe pour it from an exaggerated height. With the bubbly and the berries, you could even call this enormous cocktail romantic. Serve it in a large bowl surrounded by rose petals, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Lighted on fire or not, just think of these punch bowls as a little liquid courage for whatever you have in store for the evening: a romantic date, a dance party, an evening on the couch with Netflix, or dinner for one, two or 10.


California Cookbook: The old one two recipe »


20 minutes. Makes about 1 ½ quarts.

40 blackberries, plus extra berries for garnish

7 ½ ounces superfine sugar

7 ½ ounces lemon juice, from about 3 large lemons

7 ½ ounces VS cognac

20 ounces Brut sparkling wine or Champagne

Lemon wheels, for garnish

1. In a blender, combine the 40 blackberries, sugar and lemon juice and purée. Strain, removing any seeds and particles.

2. Place the purée with the cognac and ice in a large cocktail shaker and shake to chill for about 30 seconds.

3. Pour the mixture into a punch bowl and add ice. Top with sparkling wine, use a ladle to lightly stir, and garnish with plenty of blackberries and lemon wheels. Serve immediately.

Each of 12 servings: Calories, 158; protein, 0; carbohydrates, 22 grams; fiber, 1 gram; fat, 0; cholesterol, 0; sugar, 20 grams; sodium, 1 mg

Note: Adapted from a recipe from Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel.


California Cookbook: The scorpion bowl recipe »

6 minutes. Serves 2.

2 ounces orange juice, from about ½ orange

1 ounce lime juice, from about 1 lime

1 ounce orgeat syrup

1 ounce cognac

2 ounces gin

2 ounces light rum

In a scorpion or similar bowl or container holding just under 10 ounces, combine the orange and lime juices, orgeat syrup, cognac, gin and rum.


Each serving: Calories, 207; protein, 0; carbohydrates, 12 grams; fiber, 0; fat, 0; cholesterol, 0; sugar, 10 grams; sodium, 2 mg

Note: Adapted from a recipe at Pacific Seas at Clifton’s in downtown Los Angeles. To garnish: Clifton’s has bowls outfitted with a cup in the center where a crouton can be set on fire with either lemon extract or Bacardi 151. 151 will have a blue flame; the lemon extract will burn orange. For added flair, sprinkle cinnamon on the flame to make it spark.




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