Philadelphia Fish House Punch

A lazy afternoon, guaranteed.

philadelphia fish house punch recipe

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.


Servings: 18 - 20

  • 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

  1. 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.)
  2. Allow oleo-saccharum to infuse for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Dissolve sugar with warm water or tea.
  4. Add rum, cognac, lemon juice and peach brandy and stir to mix.
  5. Add a block of ice to chill, and continue to add smaller pieces of ice for desired dilution. (See Editor's Note.)
  6. Garnish with lemon wheels and freshly grated nutmeg.
  7. Ladle into individual glasses.
Editor's Note

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.

  • monoverb

    This recipe needs to come with a stronger warning. Four cups in last night – that was all it took. I don’t think i’ve been that drunk since bid night.. and that was a long time ago.

    • greenermjr

      Agreed and I think 18-20 servings is way understating the output. When halved this recipe when properly diluted is probably that # of servings.

      I recommend addition of soda water

      This is a delicious punch

  • aurora50

    35 years ago, my housemate and I decided to have a Halloween party. We invited our friends and neighbors in our rural town to come as, *You Have Been, Will Be, or Always Wanted to Be*. In order to keep things decorous, we decided to make a nice punch from the ‘Joy of Cooking’…this punch.


    To say the evening lacked decorum does not even begin to describe the goings-on! the Polaroids taken that night were, to the good luck of several, lost in the shuffle of the years…it was an amazing night!

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