Fish House Punch
1 cupsuperfine sugar (bakers sugar)
1 literbrandy
1 (750 ml) bottleJamaican dark rum
2 cupslemon juice (fresh squeezed)
12 oz. (1-1/2 cups)peach brandy
1 quartclub soda
Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice, rum, and brandies. Chill for several hours, then decoct into a large bowl and add the club soda. Garnish with peach slices (or orange slices) and cherries, with a big block of ice in the middle. Serve immediately.
First concocted in 1732 at the State in Schuylkill Fishing Club in Philadelphia, Fish House Punch is said to have kicked off the club's every meeting and to have inspired several blank pages in George Washingtons diary. We don't keep a diary, but were certainly not at a loss for words about this drink. "When winters lost all its charm and the next few months promise little more than the same, we sip this pick-me-up, which lets us weather any storm." Far nicer than it's name, Fish House Punch manages to have a keen tropical taste while maintaining the respectability of the most venerable drinks from the northern latitudes. Served with the bite of a true cocktail and never with a paper umbrella, Fish House Punch is so time-consuming to make that it dictates being concocted only in bulk. When holed up with friends on account of regrettable weather, we gather our reserves of dark rum, cognac, peach brandy, lemons, and sugar. Soon enough, we forget all about the weather outdoors and sip what the original Fannie Merritt Farmer called (as recounted in Forbes) "a much esteemed and highly potent punch" in her 1896 bible of American kitchens, The Boston Cooking-School Book. Without fail, we heed the red flag of Charles H. Baker's Gentlemans Companion of 1934: "Warning: there are a horde of so-called Fish House punch recipes that include Benedictine, curaçao, bourbon, and God knows what else. Eschew them. There is but one recipe, unwavering, invariable...". And without much doubt, its the one we've included. But even the fervent Mr. Baker makes alternative recommendations on the serious matter of which type of rum to use - Jamaican or Bacardi. His suggestions are in no way intended as heresy, but simply indicate what substitutions, if any, are possible. Although not typically a man of compromise, Mr. Baker suggests that mixers use equal portions of Jamaican and Bacardi because Many entirely worthy folk both on the Schuylkill River and the Mississippi dont happen to care for Jamaica rum. All our male parentage having come from Philadelphia or Germantown or the Chester Valley out the Main Line, and at least two of our kin were remembered members of the famous State in Schuylkill - oldest club in America, where Fish House Punch was born. Therefore, we know a bit of how Philadelphia tradition, good or poor, carries on serenely in the midst of an otherwise crude and bustling world. [excerpted from "Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century", by Paul Harrington]