A History Lesson With Booze ®

The Most Famous Punch Bowl in Sports History

This week back in 1892, a certain Lord Stanley of Preston purchased the most notorious punch bowl in sports history.

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By Français : Inconnu English: Unknown [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the top prizes in sports… gets no respect.

It all began in 1886, when British politician Lord Frederick Stanley arrived in the colony of Canada. His job: to represent Queen Victoria as Canada’s Governor General. Stanley and his family loved the Great White North. And especially Canadians’ favorite sport: something called “ice hockey.”

But the game was still in its infancy. The best team in a given year? Didn’t even get a trophy. So Stanley decided to fix that. In March 1892, he bought a silver punch bowl for the 19th-century equivalent of a $1,000 and engraved it with the words, “From Stanley of Preston.” And voila: the Stanley Cup.

Stanley donated it with one big condition: That no team actually own it. A team that won it one year, had to hand it over to next year’s winners, and so on. Which may be why some teams don’t bother to take particularly good care of it.

In 1909, the winning team kicked the Cup into a canal and left it there overnight while they partied. Fifteen years later another team’s players forgot it by the side of the road after fixing a tire. At one point it was lent to a photographer, whose Mom used it as a pot for her plants. And more recently, players have taken it to strip clubs, tossed it into swimming pools, and let their babies sit — and, er, do other things — in it.

Lord Stanley never had to witness the abuses his cup endured. A few months after he bought it, his brother, a British Earl, died. And Stanley had to sail back home to take his place. He never saw a single Stanley Cup championship.

Stanley’s Lament

Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com
Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com

Re-imagined by Brian Grant, bar manager at Pourhouse in Vancouver.


  • 1 ounce of Canadian straight rye whiskey
  • 1/4 ounce of Benedictine
  • 1/4 ounce of Fernet Branca
  • dash of maple syrup
  • Angostura bitters

Stir ingredients together (with NO ICE). Pour into the biggest, shiniest, most ornate vessel you can find. (A normal cocktail glass works, too.) Top with a dash of champagne, then throw it around like you are the champions of the world.