Fish house punch

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Fish-House Punch
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.
An early-known print reference to Fish-House Punch is in "The Cook" (1885).[1][unreliable source?]
Fish House Punch

Fish house punch is a strong, rum-based punch containing rum, cognac, and peach brandy. The drink is typically served over an ice block in a punch bowl and garnished with lemon slices.[2]


It is held to have been first concocted in 1732 at Philadelphia's fishing club, the State in Schuylkill,[3] also known as the "fish house".[citation needed]

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."[2]

America's first president, George Washington, indulged in thirteen toasts – one for each state – during a victory celebration at New York's Fraunces Tavern, and 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.[4]

The State in Schuylkill fish house Punch is traditionally made in a large bowl that did double duty as a baptismal font for citizens' infants. "Its an ample space . . . . . would indeed admit of total immersion," one citizen noted.[5]

The "fish house" is said to have been a gentlemen's club devoted to cigars, whiskey, and the occasional fishing foray upon the Chesapeake or upon the Restigouche River in Canada. Another version states that it was created in 1848 by Shippen Willing of Philadelphia, to celebrate the momentous occasion of women being allowed into the premises of the "fish house" for the first time in order to enliven the annual Christmas party.[6] It was supposed to be just "something to please the ladies' palate but get them livelier than is their usual wont."

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.


1 cup (240 ml) sugar
3½ cups (830 ml) water
1½ cups (350 ml) fresh lemon juice (6 to 8 lemons), strained
1 (750-ml) bottle Jamaican amber rum
12 US fl oz (350 ml) cognac
2 US fl oz (60 ml) peach brandy
Garnish: lemon slices[7]


Stir together sugar and 3½ cups water in a large bowl or pot until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice, rum, cognac, and brandy and chill, covered, at least 3 hours. Put half-gallon ice block in a punch bowl and pour punch over it.

See also[edit]

  • Ti' punch, a rum-based mixed drink that is especially popular in French-speaking Caribbean states


  1. ^ Food poetry
  2. ^ a b Felten, Eric (2009-03-20), "What America's Oldest Club May Quaff", The Wall Street Journal, retrieved 2009-03-22
  3. ^ History of Fish House Punch
  4. ^ Regan, Gary (2003). The Joy of Mixology. New York: Clarkson Potter. p. 3.
  5. ^ Wondrich, David (2007). Imbibe!. New York: Penguin Group. p. 87.
  6. ^ The "Shocking" History of Fish House Punch
  7. ^ Gourmet magazine - Fish House Punch Article

External links[edit]