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Chatham Artillery Punch

Chatham Artillery Punch

[Photograph: Marleigh Riggins Miller ]

We have five copies of Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl to give away this month.

To finish off this roundup of recipes from Dave Wondrich's Punch, I have selected a monster. The big dog. The epic, party-starting, punch-to-end-all-punches: Chatham Artillery Punch.

But what is this Chatham, you ask, and why does it come bearing artillery?

In the mid-nineteenth century, an all-volunteer Savannah regiment called the Republican Blues, organized in 1808 and stationed at Fort Jackson, visited Macon. The modus operandi of many of these old Savannah units was as much social and fraternal as military, so the Blues were greeted with much fanfare by the Chatham Artillery unit. An obliging local patriot by the name of A.H. Luce "proposed to brew a new punch in honor of the Blues," and the Chatham Artillery Punch was born.

There are a variety of recipes to be found for this punch—all different from this original, robust version—primarily because successive generations found its intoxicating power a little too, well, intoxicating. As Wondrich notes in this quotation from the headnote on a 1907 recipe: "Experience has taught the rising generation to modify the receipt of their forefathers to conform to the weaker constitutions of their progeny." (Ouch.) Most modernized Chatham Artillery recipes are weaker than the original formula, which is certainly strong enough to stand up to an artillery regiment. Or two.

This recipe makes a very large quantity of punch, so save it for a large gathering or reduce the proportions—even then, you may need to prepare a spare room for potentially tipsy travelers. You'll need a full bottle each of cognac, bourbon and rum, as well as three (yes, three) bottles of Champagne. If this is starting to sound like Jungle Juice, just bear with me. The Chatham Artillery Punch is potent for sure, but it's also delicious.

Be sure to use the best quality spirits you can to get the tastiest results. For the cognac, I used Pierre Ferrand Ambre but any good cognac or even a domestic alambic brandy like Osocalis would work; for the bourbon I used Four Roses Yellow Label, but you could also try Buffalo Trace, Russell's Reserve 6-year or, for a spicier result, Bulleit. In rum you need a Jamaican style; I used Plantation Jamaica 2000 but Appleton Estate V/X or 12-year would be nice here as well. For the sparkling wine, true French Champagne will be truly delicious—you're not just topping off with the stuff. But a good sparkling wine from elsewhere will work, too.

And finally, imbibe cautiously! As the Augusta Chronicle noted when it printed this recipe: "As a vanquisher of men its equal has never been found."

About the author: Marleigh Riggins Miller writes and photographs for SLOSHED!, a website about cocktails, spirits, home bartending, and entertaining.

Chatham Artillery Punch

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About This Recipe

Yield:about 30 (6-ounce servings)
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:1 hour
Special equipment:large (2.5 gallon) punch bowl, empty 750 milliliter bottle

Ingredients

  • 12 lemons
  • 2 cups light, raw sugar
  • 750-milliliter bottle cognac
  • 750-milliliter bottle bourbon
  • 750-milliliter bottle Jamaica rum
  • 3 750-milliliter bottles Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
  • 5 pound bag cracked ice

Procedures

  1. 1

    Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel the lemons, being careful to remove only the yellow peel and not the bitter white pith.

  2. 2

    Place the peels in a bowl, add the sugar and muddle to combine. Set aside for at least half an hour, preferably an hour, to let the flavors combine.

  3. 3

    While the lemon peel is resting, juice the lemons to make two cups lemon juice. After the lemon peel has rested, add lemon juice to the bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Strain the mixture into an empty 750mL bottle.

  4. 4

    Add water to the bottle to fill, seal it, give it a little shake and refrigerate this shrub until you're ready to make your punch.

  5. 5

    To serve, fill your large (2.5 gallon) punch bowl with cracked ice. (At this point, move your punch bowl to its party-time location, as it will be very difficult to move when it's full of punch.)

  6. 6

    Pour the shrub and all of the bottles of cognac, bourbon, rum and sparkling wine onto the ice. Stir to combine. Serve.

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