‘Fish House Punch’ was created in 1732 at the The Schuylkill Fishing Company gentleman’s club in Philadelphia. This angling club, which is still in existence, was the first of its kind in the American Colonies, and claims to be the oldest social club in the English-speaking world. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, as well as of course, the Boston patriots, enjoyed fish House Punch. Who knows? It may have been used to fortify the nerves and warm the bodies of the Tea Party participants on that fateful night. While the original 1732 formula is still secreted away at the Fish House (as the club is referred to) many recipes and variations have circulated over the last 280 years, through the colonies and beyond.
It is typically shown being diluted with either water or tea. All written records of variations refer to either black or green tea, which is what was available at that time, but to tease forward the flavors of the Peach Brandy, we prefer a good wulong. The recipe which has been served a number of times at L’Espalier and will be served again this December in honor of the Boston Tea Party, was adapted from research by David Wondrich for Esquire Magazine.
Fish House Punch
- 1 Small Saucepan
- 1 Large punch bowl
- 1 Strainer
- 1.5 cups superfine sugar
- 1.5 quarts cold water
- 1 quart lemon juice fresh squeezed
- 2 quarts dark rum
- 1 quart cognac or brandy
- 6-8 ounces peach brandy
- 4 tbls wulong tea leaves
- Bring 1 quart of water to around 185 degrees and steep tea leaves for 5 minutes.
- Strain and discard leaves. Set tea aside.
Make The Punch
- In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in two cups of tea, and then incorporate the lemon juice.
- Add the spirits and the remaining water and tea to taste.
- Place a block of ice into your bowl and let stand in a cool place for the flavors to develop for an hour or so before serving.