July 2nd, 2008
If Monday night’s Flowing Bowl Punch Party, hosted by drinkboston at Eastern Standard, were a high-diving competition, it would score a perfect 10 for both execution and technical difficulty. I mean, how often do you walk into a bar and see 60-odd people holding decorative cups filled with punch made from 200-year-old recipes? How often are you served a drink that involves steeping three kinds of booze, multiple fruits and spices and green tea in hot water for several hours, adding milk, straining the curdled mixture through cheesecloth twice and chilling the finished product down with a massive ring of ice decorated with pineapple slices? And how often do you see bartenders ladling liquid out of large, flowing bowls instead of shaking cocktails?
Thanks to Jackson Cannon and Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli for concocting the four punches — all deceptively potent and enjoyably distinct from one another — from recipes in David Wondrich’s Imbibe!, the Savoy Cocktail Book and Martha Washington’s own notebook. And thanks to the rest of Eastern Standard’s staff for the charcuterie, deviled eggs, beef carpaccio and other tasty bites, and the gracious service.
Below is a list of the punches that were served, along with their key ingredients and bits of historical poetry revealing that odes to alcoholic beverages in America existed well before the Algonquin Round Table. To create these punches yourself, either consult the aforementioned sources or click on the links below.
Philadelphia Fish-House Punch
Toast of Schuylkill and to Independence!
Mixture of cognac, rum and house-made peach brandy
Created by a colonial rod and gun club on the banks of Pennsylvania’s Schuykill River and remembered in modern times thanks to a recipe passed on by a Philadelphia lawyer, Charles Godfrey Leland.
“There’s a little place just out of town,
Where, if you go to lunch,
They’ll make you forget your mother-in-law
With a drink called Fish-House Punch.”
Martha Washington’s Rum Punch
Cheers to our first First Lady!
Juice of lemons & oranges
Spice mix of clove, cinnamon & nutmeg
Curacao, light & dark rums
This recipe is said to have come from Martha Washington’s own journal.
“This ancient Silver bowl of mine, it tells of good old times,
Of joyous days, and jolly nights and merry Christmas Chimes
They were a free and jovial race, but honest, brave and true,
That dipped their ladle in the punch when this old bowl was new.”
Chatham Artillery Punch
For soldiers young and old, men of action, brave and bold!
Pineapples, lemons, oranges & cherries
Native wine, rum & rye
Strong green tea & champagne
The house punch of the Chatham Artillery of Savannah, Georgia, formed in 1786. Recipe available in Imbibe!
“When you visit the town of Savannah
Enlist ‘neath the temperance banneh,
For if you should lunch,
On artillery punch,
It will treat you in sorrowful manneh.”
Milk Punch #1
Celebrate the wit and wisdom of Aphra Behn.
Juice and rind of lemons
Spice mix of clove, coriander, cinnamon & green cardamom
Brandy, rum & batavia arrack
Strong green tea, water & milk
Aphra Behn was a 17th-century English dramatist and novelist and the “first woman ever to earn her living solely by writing,” according to Imbibe! She is also credited with inventing milk punch, a drink that is “undeniably smooth, but not necessarily lush,” writes Wondrich. This recipe is the Milk Punch #1 from the Savoy Cocktail Book.
“If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink;
Good Punch, a friend, or being dry
Or least we should be by and by,
Or any other reason why!”