Ring the bell, it's time for Last Call, where JK Grence, bartender at Shady's, serves up booze advice and recipes. Got a burning question for your bartender? Leave it in the comments and it might be answered in a future column.
This time of year, festive gatherings can sneak up on you in a hurry. I know I have a few fiestas bearing down on me faster than I can comprehend. Unexpected guests are inevitable. It's a great idea to have a quick recipe under your hat for when a bunch of people show up.
One of my favorites for impromptu gatherings is Fish House Punch. It's a funny name, but it's rooted deep in American history. The fish house in question is the Schuylkill (pronounced "SKOO-kull") Fishing Company, near Philadelphia. It's an ages-old fishing club, dating back to before the American Revolution. Legend has it George Washington was one of the early members. Back then, as today, the gentlemen in the club got together not only to fish, but also to drink. The drink of choice was their own Fish House Punch.
You do have some creative license when making Fish House Punch. Every recipe I've seen has some bar staples in common: Sugar, lemon juice, dark rum, Cognac, and peach brandy. Water is the most common ingredient for dilution, but green or black tea are not unheard of. You can also add festive bubbles in the form of sparkling water, or sparkling wine if you feel like it needs a little extra kick.
Not that Fish House Punch needs any extra kick, mind you. This punch is quite potent just the way it is. Just what you need to make a holiday gathering especially merry.
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Fish House Punch Makes at least 20 servings 1 cup sugar 2 cups water 1½ cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice 750ml (1 bottle) dark Jamaican rum 375ml (½ bottle) Cognac ¼ cup peach brandy Sparkling water (optional)
Directions: Mix together sugar and water, stirring to dissolve sugar. Combine remaining ingredients except sparkling water. Add more water to taste; skip this addition if you're adding sparkling water later. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least three hours, up to two days (of course, skip the chilling if your guests came out of nowhere). To serve, pour over a half-gallon block of ice in a punch bowl. If desired, add sparkling water to taste, and stir gently. Garnish with thin slices of lemon.
Optional variations, use any or all: •Substitute green or black tea for the water. •Use half lemon juice, half lime juice. •Add ¼ cup maraschino liqueur. •Substitute Champagne for the sparkling water.