Fish House Punch is a famous tipple dating back to 1732. I first came upon it in Dave Wondrich's book Punch, and was recently offered a cup at a New Year's Day celebration. When I asked the bartender what was in it, he replied, "What isn't in it?"
With thoughts of Long Island iced tea whirling through my mind, I hesitantly raised the glass to my lips. To my surprise this cup of punch was strong, but balanced and warmed me right to the core; a lovely treat on a 12-degree day.
Fish House Punch dates back to the early 1700's, where it was created for a gentlemen's club that was technically named The State in Schuylkill Fishing Club, but was more widely known as simply the Fish House. It is even said that George Washington imbibed in this popular punch. Winters were rough and summers just as much so back in colonial times, so it's no wonder that Fish House Punch was a popular cure-all and a festive man's indulgence.
These days it's a great way to warm up a wintry happy hour in no time. Lots of you may still be digging out from that last winter blast, and with news of another Nor'easter on the way, I thought a big batch of Fish House Punch was in order to warm you up for the weekend. Call your friends and break out your pitcher or punch bowl for a throwback drink you'll be glad you revisited.
Fish House Punch
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
6 cups water
1 quart of lemon juice
2 quarts dark rum
1 quart VSOP Cognac
1/2 cup peach brandy
Chilled club soda or Champagne to top
Ice ring or block
In a large punch bowl, combine the sugar and enough water to dissolve. Stir until dissolved. Then add the lemon juice, rum, Cognac, and brandy and stir to combine. Add the ice and top with the club soda or Champagne just before serving.
As you can imagine over the past 250 years there have been many versions of this recipe floating around. Feel free to make substitutions, like swapping the Cognac with Rye, and mix up your own take on Fish House Punch.