The Old Delaware Fishing Punch

Before there were cocktails, there were punches. Lots of punches. With the rise of the cocktail, it was only a matter of time before the voluminous punch bowl became a single serving drink. The Old Delaware Fishing Punch is brought to you by Harry Johnson from his 1888 bartenders guide.

Here is the recipe as presented by Harry in his book:

1 table-spoonful of sugar;

1 or 2 dashes of Lemon juice;

1 or 2 dashes Lime juice, dissolve well in a little water;

Fill up the glass with fine ice;

1 wine glass of St. Croix rum;

1 Pony glass of Old Brandy;

stir up well with a spoon, dress the top with fruit in season, and serve with a straw. This drink can also be put up in bottles for the Fisherman to take along, so he will loose [sic] no time while fishing.

With three ounces of booze in the glass, your fisherman wouldn’t have to drink too many of these before he stopped caring about catching any damn fish.

19th century measures can be a bit confusing not to mention not being strictly standardized. The modern measurements given below attempt to remain faithful to the original while producing a balanced drink. As with all recipes, let your taste be your guide regarding the citrus and sugar.

Here is the modern translation:old delaware punch 2

1/4 oz Simple Syrup

1/8 oz Lemon Juice

1/8 oz Lime Juice

2 oz Rum

1 oz Brandy

Stir simple syrup (or super fine sugar and a dash of water), lemon juice, and lime juice in a rocks glass. Add ice, then rum and brandy. Stir and top with more ice if needed, leaving enough room for the fruit if you wish to add it.

This drink is very similar to one printed in Jerry Thomas’s 1862 How to Mix Drinks called Philadelphia Fish House Punch which included not only rum and brandy, but peach brandy as well. Thomas apparently got the recipe from someone who knew someone who was a member of the very old, very exclusive, very secretive club known as, firstly, the Colony of Schuylkill, later the State in Schuylkill (aka Schuylkill Fishing Company) located, you guessed it, near the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The Schuylkill and Delaware rivers are connected, of course, and these concoctions might be also. Anyway, enjoy this single-serving punch with or without your fishing pole.