As David Wondrich suggests in Imbibe!, Philadelphia Fish House Punch “deserves to be protected by law, taught in the schools, and made a mandatory part of every Fourth of July celebration.” The stuff was born from a group of rebellious (and most likely overheated) colonial Americans—fishermen, politicians, and Philadelphians of the like—who founded a pre-Revolution social club called the Schuylkill Fishing Company of Pennsylvania, also known as the State in Schuylkill. Its constituents actually declared the assemblage a sovereign state, and called themselves “citizens.” They still do today. Heady and heavy-handed, Fish House Punch is made for lazy summer afternoons (or—when heated and mulled—lazy, winter weekends), so we’d recommend refraining from following a punch bowl up with any sort of plans, angling or otherwise.
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 lemons, peeled and peels reserved
- 4 cups black tea (or water)
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 4 cups rum, Jamaican
- 2 cups cognac
- 1/2 cup peach brandy
Garnish: lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg
- In a large bowl, add sugar and lemon peels, and rub together to release the citrus oils into the sugar. (This is called oleo-saccharum.)
- Allow oleo-saccharum to infuse for at least 30 minutes.
- Dissolve sugar with warm water or tea.
- Add rum, cognac, lemon juice and peach brandy and stir to mix.
- Add a block of ice to chill, and continue to add smaller pieces of ice for desired dilution. (See Editor's Note.)
- Garnish with lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg.
- Ladle into individual glasses.
Freezing a Bundt pan or large bowl of water overnight is PUNCH's go-to shortcut for creating a block of ice. Punch is extremely versatile, so continue to add ice for desired dilution as well as additional garnish. If a hot punch is desired, skip the ice and add ingredients to a sauce pan to warm. Serve straight from the saucepan into tempered mugs.