With New Year’s Eve right around the corner, it’s time once again to share some of our favorite historical drink recipes. A word of caution...we are not responsible if your guests get out of control, refuse to leave for days on end, try to shake you down for money or become extra “snugly” after consuming these punches.
Planter's Punch Rum
This 19th Century drink has been said to have originated at the Planters Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. A description of the drink appeared in the September, 1878 edition of the London magazine Fun. “A wine-glass with lemon juice fill, Of sugar the same glass fill twice Then rub them together until The mixture looks smooth, soft, and nice. Of rum then three wine glasses add, And four of cold water please take. A Drink then you'll have that's not bad—At least, so they say in Jamaica.”
To make a Planter’s Punch, you’ll need:
½ bottle (12 ounces) fresh lime or lemon juice
1 bottle sugar syrup (or 1¼ pounds of sugar)
1 ½ bottles rum
3 lbs ice and water
Mix all ingredients well. Decorate with fresh sliced fruit as desired. This recipe makes about 30 4-ounce glasses.
Fish House Punch
Fish House Punch is a strong, rum-based punch containing rum, cognac, and peach brandy. The drink is typically served over an ice block in a punch bowl and garnished with lemon slices.
Fish House Punch is believed to have been first concocted in 1732 at a Philadelphia's fishing club, known as the “State in Schuylkill” or simply, the "Fish House". The drink was traditionally served in an enormous punch bowl. A 1744 description of the drink notes the punch bowl was “big enough to have Swimmed half a dozen of young Geese.”
To make Fish House Punch,
Completely dissolve 3/4 pound of sugar in a little water, in a punch bowl
Add a bottle of lemon juice
Add 2 bottles Jamaican rum
1 bottle cognac
2 bottles of water
1 Wine glassful of peach cordial.
Add a ½ gallon ice block to the punch bowl.
Let Punch stand about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
This recipe makes about 60 4-ounce glasses.
Hot Cider Punch or “Wassail”
There is so much we could write on about Wassail, the tradition of “Wassailing” and other related yuletide activities.
In short, Wassail was a beverage of hot mulled cider, drunk traditionally as an integral part of Wassailing, a Medieval Christmastide English drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year.
By the 17th Century, Wassailing had evolved into a tradition where townsfolk would take to the street while consuming bowls of Wassail. Wassailers went house to house offering the warm drink in exchange for food, more drink or payment. A late seventeenth-century commentator wrote, "Wenches ...by their Wassels at New-years-tide ...present you with a Cup, and you must drink of the slabby stuff; but the meaning is, you must give them Moneys."
According to a period account from Salem, Wassailing often led to drunken street brawls and random acts of violence. When one Salem family refused to partake in the activity, a drunken mob turned on them. “They threw stones, bones, and other things at Poole in the doorway and against the house. They beat down much of the daubing in several places and continued to throw stones for an hour and a half with little intermission. They also broke down about a pole and a half of fence, being stone wall, and a cellar, without the house, distant about four or five rods, was broken open through the door, and five or six pecks of apples were stolen.”
To make Wassail, you’ll need:
1 Gallon heated apple cider
1/2 ounce brandy flavoring
1/2 ounce rum flavoring OR (even better) 1/2 quart light rum
3 sticks cinnamon
3 to 6 whole oranges
Small bag of whole cloves
Simmer mixture with 3 sticks whole cinnamon to melt--DO NOT COOK.
Allow to cool, pour into punch bowl. Separately stick whole cloves around entire surface of 3 to 6 whole oranges. Place oranges into baking pan with 1/2 inch of water, and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Place oranges into punch bowl
This recipe serves 40 4-ounce glasses.
USS Richmond Punch
The punch is named after one of the longest serving vessels in the Navy’s history and became popular in the late 19th Century. The USS Richmond saw action in multiple locations during the Civil War, including, among others, chasing a Confederate raider through the Caribbean, participating in the Mississippi River blockade, and helping capture New Orleans. The Richmond also went to the Mediterranean to protect U.S. citizens potentially endangered by the Franco-Prussian war, served in the West Indies Squadron, and was the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet.
To make this drink you’ll need:
1 1⁄2 cup Superfine sugar
2 cup Strong-brewed black tea (use 2 teabags, 16 oz water)
2 cup Dark Jamaican rum (Smith & Cross or Myers’s, 16 oz)
2 cup VS or VSOP-grade Cognac (16 oz)
2 cup Ruby port (Graham’s Six Grapes, 16 oz)
4 oz Grand Marnier
1500 ml Club soda or Champagne
Place a 2- or 3-quart bowl of water in the freezer and let freeze overnight. Peel 6 lemons with a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler, trying not to get any of the white pith.
In bowl, muddle the peels with 1.5 cups of superfine sugar and let stand for an hour for the lemon oil to leach out. Juice the peeled lemons and add the juice to the sugar mixture, along with the tea. Strain out the peels and pour into a 1-gallon container.
Add the rum, cognac, port and Grand Marnier, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To serve, unmold the block of ice into a 2-gallon punch bowl. Add the chilled punch stock and top off with the club soda (or, if feeling dangerous, Champagne).
Garnish with grated nutmeg and 1 seeded lemon sliced thinly.
This recipe serves 20 4-ounce glasses.