The Angling Club That Helped Found America
The iconic Philadelphia Fish house punch is believed to have come from the oldest angling club in the United States named the “Colony in Schuylkill”. Originally located in Fairmount, Pennsylvania, the club opened a clubhouse at the foot of the Schuylkill River Falls (The Club eventually changed its name to the Schuylkill Fishing Company and has moved several times since its founding and is now located in Andalusia, Pennsylvania). Playing a pivotal role in the revolutionary war the governing members of the Colony of Schuylkill helped form the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. The First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry still the oldest active and most decorated units in the US Army today. George Washington & the Marquis de Lafayette would often stop at the clubhouse during the war where they became honorary members. The Club would hold gatherings for military victories and to celebrate would mix up a special punch it served from their baptism bowl. These celebrations are the birthplace of the Philadelphia Fish House Punch.
The famed fish house punch did not stay in the clubhouse long and very quickly became a well known american punch. The oldest printed recipe I can find for this cocktail is in the 1862 Bartender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas.
- 1/3 Pint of lemon juice
- 3/4 pound of white sugar
- 1/3 pint of peach brandy
- 1/3 pint of cognac brandy
- 1/3 pint of Jamaican rum
- 2 1/2 pints of cold water
Here is the punch recipe updated to use more convenient units. The single serve recipe is below.
- 3/4 cup of lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups (1/2 bottle) of simple syrup
- 3/4 cup of peach brandy
- 3/4 cup of cognac brandy
- 3/4 cup of Jamaican rum
- 6 1/3 cups (2 bottles) of cold water
For reference a pint is the equivalent volume of a pound of water so it’s good enough to use pound and pint interchangeably for this purpose. Even the Mount Vernon historical estate recognizes this as the correct recipe and I’m confident they know what they are talking about. But not all recipe use water some use black tea. Personally speaking the black tea taste better and adds a nice earthiness to it, but water is the original ingredient.
Peach Liqueur Is Not Peach Brandy
Another ingredient that can cause an issue is the peach brandy. Brandy is actually a catch all name for any spirit distilled from fruit. The word brandy though is synonymous with specifically grape brandy distilled from grape wine, but any fruit wine can be distilled into brandy. To differentiate the other fruits its specified which fruit, so apple brandy is brandy from apple wine or pear brandy from pear wine, peach from peach wine, etc. And these other fruit brandies are typically dry, 80 proof, un-aged spirits.
The problem is peach liqueurs and peach schnapps will be marketed and sold as peach brandy, when they are actually completely different from real peach brandy. Again real peach brandy is dry and strong, almost like a peachy white rum. To make the issue worse real peach brandy is almost impossible to find in stores. I’ve only ever found dry peach brandy as small craft distilleries in house stores. The closest I’ve found in most liquor stores is Christian Bros Peach Brandy. It’s actually pretty good. It’s brandy infused with peach flavors but its fairly dry, 35% ABV, and the closest you will get flavor wise to a real peach brandy.
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