Bar Fly: Fish House Punch

From the Philadelphia Times, circa 1896: “Fishhouse punch first brought trouble into this world through the medium of the oldest social organization speaking the English language.” The story purported to offer the secret recipe of the official drink of the Schuylkill Fishing Club, est. 1732. Seems those well-heeled Philadelphians liked to cast the occasional line and get blotto in the way only 18th-century men of leisure could. Recipes vary—professor Jerry Thomas, the godfather of all mixologists, favoured twice as much cognac as rum; some people do away with the peach brandy altogether. That’s the great thing about punch—it’s almost impossible to screw up. Just heed the Times’s warning: “The mild taste of the punch is as false as dicers’ oaths or woman’s smiles.”

  •  1 cup superfine sugar
  • 3½ cups warm water
  • 1½ cups fresh lemon juice (6 to 8 lemons), strained
  • 1 750ml bottle Appleton Estate V/X rum
  • 12 oz Cognac (1½ cups)
  • 2 oz peach brandy (¼ cup)

Note: Peach brandy is not available in B.C., but apricot brandy is a reasonable substitute, as is Giffard peach syrup. In a large pot, stir sugar into water until dissolved.

Add lemon juice, rum, Cognac, and brandy, and chill, covered, at least 3 hours. Serve in a punch bowl with a large block of ice.