Almost ten years ago, I fell into writing about cocktails. It began as a sideline to my job as an English professor, but before very long it had metastasized into a career—a thoroughly enjoyable one, to be sure, but not without its challenges. Spending so much of my time in the company of delightful drinks, I want to share them with friends, but after years' worth of parties given over to measuring, shaking, stirring, fumbling for ingredients, and, worst of all, never getting a chance to talk to anyone, I realized that I needed something that I could prepare in advance. It had to be dry and sophisticated and as refreshing as a cocktail but not, perhaps, so immediately intoxicating. And, just as important, it had to have a good story attached to it. There was only one drink I knew that might fit the bill: punch.