Fish House Punch: The Rum Cocktail Enjoyed By George Washington

Classic cocktails and drinks are having their moment right now, with many retro sips being revisited and reinvented by modern bartenders and discerning drinkers alike. And what's more retro than punch? One such classic punch, which also has the claim to fame of having been enjoyed by a Founding Father of America, is the Fish House Punch. You may already know that George Washington's favorite cocktail was the brandy-based cherry bounce, but it turns out that he enjoyed a good rum-based punch every now and then as well.

In 1732, a group of Quakers got together and formed a social club outside of Philadelphia on land they leased from the Lenni-Lenape tribe. They called their club the Colony in Schuylkill (and later the State in Schuylkill), also known as the Schuylkill Fishing Company or simply the Fish House. Members of the club (which still exists today) enjoyed fishing, eating, and drinking. And their drink of choice was a concoction they called the Fish House Punch. George Washington was said to have enjoyed the punch (something the Inn at Mount Vernon has confirmed), supposedly so much so that after one particular visit he didn't write in his diary for three days. 

The historic and modern makings of Fish House Punch

As is the case with many classics, the original recipe may have been lost to time. Recipes for the Fish House Punch were publicly published in 1862, 1896, and 1939, with each claiming to be the original recipe. The official Mount Vernon website has a recipe that also claims to be based on the original, which features Jamaican rum, cognac brandy, peach brandy, lemon juice, sugar, and water, in addition to a more modern take that they call the Philadelphia Fish House Punch. We offer our own modern take on the Fish House Punch recipe that includes rum, peach brandy, lime and lemon juice, simple syrup, and sugar.

Some recipes call for the addition of club soda or champagne to the recipe, while others include black tea or Earl Grey tea to the punch, thereby turning it into a tea-infused cocktail perfect for any occasion. Regardless of which exact version you use, be sure to make it in a large punch bowl and garnish with plenty of ice and slices of lemons or limes to serve at your next cocktail party or get-together with a lot of guests.