Tavern Punch aka Fish House Punch
This my friends, is one heck of a concoction!
It’s 280 years old.
When I was growing up in Philadelphia, one of my mom’s best friends was Mrs. Gracey.
Mrs. Gracey was so different from my mom, she was older than her, she cursed a blue streak, (something my mom has never done) and she was a little bit crazy (in a great way). She was Martha before their was a Martha. She painted, decorated, ripped things apart and put them back together, she had an eye for everything. She appreciated great food, fantastic cheeses, the theatre and fine wines. She was completely different then anyone I knew.
Best of all…she treated us kids like we were in charge when we went for a visit. I am one of 5 kids and boy did we fight, sneak, trick, etc. to see which two of us would be the lucky ones to drop something off at her house for my mom like vegetables from our garden or return something that was borrowed.
Once we entered her home…she offered you soda…in a glass…a big beautiful glass just like an adult would get. She always had treats to go with it too, and best of all were the apothecary jars (which I had never seen in anywhere before and didn’t know their name until many years later)!
Those big beautiful jars were filled with candy – all kinds of candy. And we always got a mixed bagful to take home! Heaven!
To this day one of my very favorite candies, which was a constant in one of those magical jars, are Gourmet Mints…love them!
Funny, I still think my soda glass was 2 feet tall and those beautiful jars of candy were 3 feet tall. And I hope I never remember it any differently!
Flash forward a few years and one Christmas Eve, during her annual open house, Mrs. Gracey served this…
Ever hear of it?
Neither did anybody…but…boy oh boy was that a party!
The big bowl was endless, and folks kept helping themselves, and yes, they all had a beautiful glass…no paper cups in her home. I was 21 and was allowed a glassful it tasted kind of like lemonade and went down easy. But be warned this is some potent stuff! One of my brothers, who was in high school at the time, must have snuck a cup or two and he had his first experience being tipsy and boy was it funny and something the whole family remembers. Figure if it’s going to happen, having it happen with your parents is the way to go!
Years later, I did some research, it turned out that the actual name of the punch is Fish House Punch and it dates back to 1732. It comes from the oldest club in America, a place that was called The Schuylkill Fishing Company. There are so many articles on this libation and its history and lore…it’s fascinating. Tales about this punch range from young boys reaching a certain age being “baptized” by this punch as their first drink…to the punch being created to loosen up the ladies once they were allowed to enter the club.
One quote from the Lincoln Nebraska Evening News back in 1903 says “It is said that if one will drink enough of Fish House Punch he will reach a condition of optimism where he builds yachts and buys real estate by the block.” That’s the sort of stimulus I can endorse lol!
Leave it to Mrs. Gracey to find and serve such a cool, history filled punch!
Tavern Punch aka Fish House Punch
2 quarts of water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 quart of fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 quarts of dark Jamaican rum
1 quart of Cognac
6 oz Peach Brandy
Combine the water and sugar in a pitcher or bowl and stir well until dissolved (you can even heat up the water a bit, dissolve the sugar, and cool completely). Set aside. Combine the lemon juice, rum, cognac and brandy. Add the water sugar mixture to the alcohol mixture. Chill. Allow it to sit for at least 4 hours before serving.
I have kept this for up to 3 months on hand chilled and it still is delish!!
If you want to try just a glass full for the fun and history of it:
2 ounces water
1 1/2 to 2 tsps sugar
1 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces dark Jamaican rum
1 ounce cognac
1/8 ounce peach brandy
And go with good quality alcohol!! And take everyone’s keys!