When arrack originally an Indian strong liquor made from rice, sugarcane, palm sap, molasses, date juice, anise seed, etc was first introduced in Sweden in the 18th century,
it became the main ingredient in a new popular drink mixture, called punsch.
Arrack was imported from Java, Indonesia, where it was distilled by Chinese immigrants, who have kept the exact production process and ingredients a secret, all the way from the 18th century to our days.
Punsch in the old days was made by mixing arrack with sugar, lemon and hot water similarly to the punches drunk in France, England and Germany. Lemon was later omitted and replaced with white wine.
Picture on left: a popular brand of traditional Swedish punsch, Carlshamns Flaggpunsch.
The modern punsch, types of which have been sold ready-made in Sweden since 1845, is an arrack-based sweet, yellowish-clear liqueur, which has the alcohol content of around 26 % by volume.
Its colour may vary from light golden yellow to dark. Depending on the product, the sweet taste of punsch may be characterised as having a hint of almond, almond paste, banana, chocolate, whisky or tobacco flavour in it.
At first punsch was usually drunk warm, but from the mid-19th century on it became a custom to drink it chilled. Yet even today in Sweden and in Finland it is sometimes served
warmed to accompany green pea soup, especially at Shrovetide. Punsch is also excellent served as a dessert drink with coffee or tea or with some good blue cheese.
It can also be used to flavour glögg, the Scandinavian mulled wine.
Outside Scandinavia, Swedish punsch may also be known as arrack punch or caloric punch.