Once upon a time, if you wanted a drink that was short, strong and solid, you didn't reach for the cocktail shaker—those hadn't been invented yet—but rather, for the punch ladle. Dating to at least the early 17th-century and likely originating in India or nearby trade routes, punch was, for centuries, the primary delivery vehicle for an array of distilled spirits, especially those made from sugar cane, such as the fledgling rum or the exotic Batavia arrack.
'punches' on Serious Eats
A note indicates that this punch is "As served at the Club's last dance some years ago." If they were serving this, no wonder the dances have tailed off. Also, this recipe is attributed to "A Charleston Gentleman," which is as well, as one imagines that this punch would lead to the sort of indiscretions it behooves a gentleman to be discreet about.