Friday, July 1, 2011

Exhibit 35.1: Fish House Punch

Fish House Punch $6
July 4th weekend feels like a good time to serve this most noted of American punches: Cognac, rum, lemon juice, sweet lemon oil, demerara sugar, peach and apple brandy, water, up. This was (is?) the official tipple of the "State in Schuylkill," the world's oldest dining club. Founded in 1732 near Philadelphia by treaty with the Delaware Indians, the state's official business was angling, hunting, and washing it all down with their potent Fish House Punch. Membership was limited to 25 Citizens and 5 Apprentices, holding official titles and duties such as governor, lieutenant governor, secretary, coroner, sheriff, and so forth. Unlike other social clubs, there were no servants, and all participated in the preparation of the feasts, even visiting presidents and dignitaries. There is very little current information, but word is the club still exists and still operates according to the original, colonial period bylaws. Unfortunately we cannot say the same for real peach brandy, a lynchpin in this recipe as well as several key juleps. To compensate, we (and the State) use a smaller amount of the modern, sweet stuff, mixed with apple brandy.

And some of the most well-received drinks from the last few months:

Beachcomber’s Gold $8
By Don the Beachcomber, late 1930s. A mix of gold Cuban-style rum with smaller amounts of gold and dark Jamaican rums, lime juice, sugar, and spiced with a little Pernod and almond extract. Served up. Donn Beach, to my palate, was not just the first, but the most consistently creative and visionary of the tiki progenitors and this was one of his core recipes. The Beachcomber's Gold is a Daiquiri at heart, but the layering of rum flavors with notes of anise and almond provide the otherworldly, exotic touch that is the hallmark of Donn's drinks.

Bismarck Fizz $6
White wine (Kiona Riesling), raspberry syrup, lemon juice, club soda, up. From the old Waldorf-Astoria, and allegedly a favorite of statesman Otto von Bismarck.

Honeymoon $8
From the archives of the Café Royal, London: Calvados (French apple brandy), Benedictine, Grand Marnier, and lemon juice, up. Heavenly.

The Jupiter $7
Gin and dry vermouth with a little OJ and Parfait Amour (a purple, sweet French liqueur with notes of orange and marshmallow). Essentially a wet martini with some unique high notes, rarely offered because of that obscure but necessary final ingredient. As several noted last time, “it tastes like a flower!”

Ward 8 $11
A double pour of rye whiskey, lemon and orange juices, pomegranate syrup and a hint of mint, served in a beer goblet with a single large piece of ice. It is essentially a more elaborate whiskey sour, writ large. The drink dates from early 20th century Boston and has some alleged ties to vote-buying. "After just one, you're ready to vote right!"

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