Serious Eats: Recipes

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.

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