Happy President's Day! What better way to honor our first president's birthday than by imbibing in one of his most favorite libations?
The Fish House Punch is named for the location of its first concoction in 1732 at Philadelphia's fishing club, the State in Schuylkill, better 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 Swimmed half a dozen of young Geese."
George Washington was known to be fond of a drink or thirteen. During a victory celebration at New York's Fraunces Tavern, he indulged in thirteen toasts — one for each state. It is 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 punch, which contains rum, cognac, and peach brandy, is potent, so it is normally diluted with cold black tea, a common mixer for this particular punch, or with seltzer water. Some punch bowls may not be large enough to accommodate the large ice block called for, and though the block is a classic part of this recipe, it can, of course, be simply served in a pitcher over ice cubes.
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HOW TO MAKE THE FISH HOUSE PUNCH COCKTAIL
At least a day ahead, fill a 2-quart bowl with water and freeze until completely solid.
In a large punch bowl, muddle the lemon peels and sugar.
Let the mixture stand for at least 3 hours.
Add the boiling water, stirring until as much as possible of the sugar has dissolved.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
To serve, add the ice block and garnish liberally with freshly grated nutmeg.
This recipe serves 25.