Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Historic Fish House Punch

     According to "Wikipedia", "Fish House Punch" is one of the most venerable cocktails in our history.  It was a cocktail of the patriotic leaders of the founding years of the United States, and still a really nice cocktail for today's parties and patio summer afternoons and evenings. 
     "This most venerable of American flowing bowls is held to have been first concocted in 1732 at Philadelphia’s fishing club, the State in Schuylkill, also known as the "Fish House".
     A 1744 note by the secretary of an embassy of Virginia Commissioners contains what may be the earliest record of the Punch. Meeting local notables at the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, he described being served "a Bowl of fine Lemon Punch big enough to have a half a dozen of young Geese swimming in." America's first President, George Washington, was known to be fond of a drink or two, and sometimes more. He indulged in thirteen toasts — one for each state — during a victory celebration at New York’s Fraunces Tavern, and it’s said that after he partook of Fish House punch at Philadelphia’s State in Schuylkill, he couldn’t bring himself to make an entry in his diary for the following three days.
     The State in Schuylkill Fish House Punch is traditionally made in a large bowl that did double duty as a baptismal font for the citizens' infant sons; “its an ample space . . . . . would indeed admit of total immersion”, as one citizen noted. I doubt that there was Punch in it at the time — it was far too precious for such usage, and far too potent.
     The Fish House was an August Gentleman's Society devoted to escaping domestic tribulation, but also to cigars, whiskey, and the occasional fishing foray upon the Chesapeake or the Restigouche River in Nova Scotia. Another version states that it was created in 1848 by Shippen Willing of Philadelphia, to celebrate the momentous occasion of women being allowed into the premises of the "Fish House" for the first time in order to enliven the annual Christmas Party.   It was supposed to be just "something to please the ladies' palate but get them livelier than is their usual wont".
Fish House Punch by the Bowl
·         1 cup sugar
·         3½ cups water
·         1½ cups fresh lemon juice (6 to 8 lemons), strained
·         1 (750-ml) bottle Jamaican amber rum
·         12 oz Cognac (1½ cups)
·         2 oz peach brandy (¼ cup)
·         Float  lemon slices on the punch
Stir together sugar and 3½ cups water in a large bowl or pot until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice, rum, Cognac, and brandy and chill, covered, at least 3 hours. Put half-gallon ice block in a punch bowl and pour punch over it. 
Fish House Punch by the glass
·         1 ½ tsp.  Superfine Sugar
·         2 oz. Spring Water
·         1 oz.  Lemon Juice
·         2 oz. Dark Jamaican Rum
·         1 oz. Cognac
·         1/8 oz. Peach Brandy
In a shaker, dissolve the sugar in hot water,  add the lemon juice and stir.  Fill with ice, then add the spirits.  Shake until chilled and pour into a pint glass and add ice to top up the glass.  Traditionally there is no garnish used with Fish House Punch, but you can float a lemon slice if you like.
     Either way this is a very flavorful punch perfect for the summer time patio get together.