Feelin’ a Little Punchy…Fish House Punch is Your Remedy

Each year on Christmas Day we have a nice dinner with family…whomever is in town…whomever can make it.   We enjoy it and hope everyone else does too.  We always try to make it special, you know, do something special.  Maybe it is the food itself…perhaps it is something else.  But it is a special day for us and we want to do what we can to add to that for those we share it with. 

Well I think we might have hit the mark this year.  At least I think this Christmas dinner will be remembered for a while.  Perhaps not for the dinner though…

Have you ever heard of “Fish House Punch”?  Yeah, me neither…that is up until a few weeks before Christmas.  Looking to do something a little unique, Diana and I talked about having a punch for everyone on Christmas Day.  Of course we would have wine available, and if the punch bombed, or someone just wanted something else…it would be there.  But the idea of having punch was kind of exciting…new…fun…perhaps even a little adventurous. 

So I started looking around.  Checking for recipes.  Blake gave me a couple of books for my birthday, reprints actually.  One was by Harry Johnson, it was his “New and Improved” Bartender’s Manual from 1882.  The other, was from 1862.  It is “Jerry Thomas’ Bartender Guide”.  There were a few recipes for a punch that looked pretty interesting. ..Ale Punch…Yorkshire Punch (not sure I could find calf’s foot jelly in time…nor sure if I wanted to…)…Duke of Norfolk Punch…Old Style American Punch (which sounded like a big bowl of  ginger ale and whiskey sours).

But after a while I tripped over the name of a recipe that sounded too awful not to take a look at it.  Curiosity, perhaps.  This punch is from about 1732…give or take a few years.  It comes from the annals of our founding fathers…and brothers.  George Washington, Ben Franklin and just about any august gentleman who wanted to be shielded from the chores at home, have a cigar, perhaps a stiff drink and occasionally hear a fishing tale from an adventure upon the waters of the Chesapeake or the Schuylkill River in what is now called Pennsylvania.  (Wow, that all sounds too familiar, cigars, drinks, lies…no wait, that was the other night at the Cigar Club…nevermind)  It was at the “Fish House”, AKA the Schuylkill Fishing Company, that this historic concoction was enjoyed by many.  Some say it was used 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  “something to please the ladies’ palate but get them livelier than is their usual wont”.   If that didn’t seal the deal for me, I read an article first published in The Philadelphia Times, dated 1892, that described this punch as “deceptive and seductive…as false as woman’s smiles.”  Search done.   Let them drink “Fish House Punch”!!

A drink that old has had several different versions handed down over time.  And if you search the internet you can see that it has gone through many twists and turns…usually attributed to the “secrets handed down to only a few”.  But all of these have similar base ingredients that are used.  The one that I used, and share below, was printed in a book titled Beverages and Sandwiches For Your Husband’s Friends, by One Who Knows.  (you can read into the title if you want, and the fact that friends are mentioned, and the name of the author as much as you want…I think it is odd, but probably inferred, that One Who Knows knows what “Your Husbands Friends” may like…but doesn’t say anything about the Husband).  So, here’s to George “W”…the original one…Ben Franklin and the rest of the gang…

FISH HOUSE PUNCH

2 quarts Jamaica rum

1 quart brandy

1/2 pint peach brandy

1/2 pint Maraschino liqueur

1 quart fresh-brewed green tea

1 pint fresh lemon juice

1 pound sugar

 Stir ingredients together in a large pot with a lid. Let it stand for a couple of days in a cool place. When ready, pour in a punch bowl.  I then added about 5-6 large ice balls (the ones I posted about a few posts back) and stirred in a bottle of Prosecco (the recipe actually calls for Champagne.)

We made a batch and a half.  And as Steve commented, “Wow, after our forefathers drank this, I bet they would have signed about anything!”

I think it was shortly after that when Steve started to dance playing Wii Just Dance II.

Regardless…Mission Accomplished.  Not sure if it was the punch…the “green” or fresh ham…perhaps Wii Just Dance II helped…Diana’s chocolate pizza…or maybe it is just the magic of the day that helped to create the memory.  Make it special.  Enjoyed.

Yes, that is it.  The Magic and the Love we share as we celebrate Christmas is what makes it special.  Not Diana and I.  Not the food or drink.

The Magic.  The Love.  The Togetherness celebrating that moment in time and the reason for that moment.

Let’s do it more often.  Celebrate that is.  I think our forefathers would like that.  Don’t you?  Cheers!

 

    

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Published in: on January 2, 2011 at 1:02 am  Leave a Comment  

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