So Kaiser Penguin has gone and done it. This month, for Mixology Monday, he wants us to bring out the big guns and talk about drinks that should only be consumed in singletons. You know, the huge, honking, hooch harmonys that come in the front door all friendly like, and then slip up the back stairs and hit you with a sock full of quarters. High-test only need apply.
So what shall we do?
Well, first off, our beloved namesake qualifies, at least so far as I am concerned. It certainly passes the raw alcohol threshold, and I am a firm believer that one Pegu is usually enough (unless, of course, I’m having two). But I think KP is looking for more melding of liquors than the subtle yet sublime pairing of Gin and Cointreau that forms the basis of the One True Cocktail™. So relax folks, you are spared, for now, further rantings on the Pegu’s perfection. Come back later, please. You’ll get your fill.
Then der Kaiser says that the venerable Long Island Iced Tea need not apply. I swiftly considered flouting him and doing the Tea anyway. I have a long history of smacking
Teach in the chops and doing exactly what he or she said not to do… and getting good grades anyway (kids, don’t try this at home). And I have a great story to tell about trying to make Long Island Iced Teas with my freshman college roomamate, but without a recipe, only an ingredient list. Unfortunately, my memory of that series of experiments (all in one night) are rather hazy. Of course, my memory was rather hazy the next morning…. Thus, the Penguin’s schoolmarmly authority must remain untested for now.
I then thought of the Hurricane. I have an awesome second-hand story of my father’s first encounter with that storied beverage. At his first cocktail party since moving from California to Coastal Georgia, he learned that:
Casualin California (tuxedo) was not the same as
casualin the beach-front South (disclaim any knowledge of what a tuxedo evenis).
- Hurricanes do in fact, contrary to the taste, contain alcohol; you shouldn’t drink five or more.
But Hurricanes are a NOLA cocktail, and I am a child of the Deep South, Georgia to be precise. We want the big guns for this, so why not roll along the caissons and fire off some Chatham Artillery Punch!
The Chatham Artillery started out as a standing militia unit—one of the oldest in the nation. Formed in 1785, more than two centuries of inevitable military change leave the unit with the more prosaic title of the 1st Battalion of the 118th Field Artillery Regiment. The 1st of the 118th is a Georgia National Guard unit which recently served our nation in Iraq. In an interesting cocktail note, the artillery pieces that the unit served in the First World War were French 75s.
Now, as with all things Southern, if something is worth doing, it’s worth having a party afterwards to get drunk and talk about it. Or alternatively, having a party beforehand to get drunk and boast about what is to come! The Chatham Artillery apparently took this not so much as truism, as pure Gospel. The story goes that the ladies would make their special tea-fruit punch, and then each of the officers, on his own and unbeknownst to the women, or more importantly, to each other, would take it upon himself to spike the punch with his favorite liquor. And a good time was had by all…. Now punch was made to be spiked, but these folks made it an art form. The Chatham Artillery Punch first became famous outside Georgia, when the New York Herald Tribune published the formerly secret recipe. (Darn New York papers, publishing military secrets even back in the 1930s!) They described the punch thusly:
This is the punch that knocked out Admiral Schley when he visited Savannah in 1899 after the Spanish War. Admiral Cervera’s Spanish shells were harmless to the brave American admiral, but (Chatham) Artillery Punch scored a direct hit which put him out for two days.
The Chatham Artillery remains as some sort of organized group. It erected a monument in Savannah at recently as 1986. Nonetheless, it is darned hard to find anything out about the Artillery through the web. I assume that today it is either:
- A sleepy, old-school Savannah social club that makes a lethal punch for its parties in honor of the military.
- A competition Barbecue sponsor.
- The shadowy, Savannah-based linchpin in the all-powerful worldwide Illuminati. Fnord.
If it is the last, don’t ever expect to hear from me again….
Enough already! Let’s have the recipe.
Right! OK, I’ll be using the recipe as provided by the Pirate’s House cookbook. The Pirate’s House is a Savannah eatery of more than legendary fame. Until you have eaten there, you have not visited Savannah.
Here we go:
- 8 liters white rum
- 4 liters gin
What in God’s name are you doing? EIGHT LITERS?!?!
Your MxMo drink is supposed to have more than 3 ounces of alcohol, but this is ridiculous.
Well, the recipe serves 100 (or 10 Admirals)…
Oh come on!
I don’t have 100 friends handy to help us drink this.
You don’t have 100 friends.
OK, here’s what we are going to do. We’ll bring the recipe down to a little over a gallon.
So it is still only a party drink.
Wrong again, Barracuda Breath. Shut up and let me work, here.
- 1/2 liter White Rum
- 1/4 liter Gin
- 1/4 liter Rye Whiskey
- 1/4 liter Brandy
- 3/4 gallons Catawba Wine (or a good, sweet Rosé, budget permitting)
- 1 oz Green Tea (Steeped 24 hours in the Sun in 2 quarts cold water, then strained)
- 1/2 cup Brandied Cherries
- 4 ounces Fresh Pineapple Chunks
- 5 ounces Light Brown Sugar
- Juice of 3 Small Lemons
Any recipe you see nowadays usually calls for Maraschino Cherries, but the little red superballs were not available in days gone by. Older recipes simply list cherries, but lets be serious here: No self-respecting maker of Chatham Artillery Punch is going to use plain cherries when alcoholic cherries can be used instead. Brandied Cherries were the subject of my pre-MxMo
Further, the punch may have supplemental ingredients added, such as the socks of a soldier, the stockings of a soldier’s wife, and sand or soil from a battlefield that has been shaken by the roar of your unit’s guns. I suppose that in this day and age, you could substitute the stockings of a soldier’s husband, but those are likely much harder to find….
Mix all ingredients except the champagne in a large, sealable container. Store in a cool, dark place for a minimum of two months. Serve by….
It only improves with age.
Some people refer to Southerners as slow. I prefer the term patient. I suspect that the two month figure may be a mild exaggeration. That said, letting the punch sit for this long requires that it be guarded the entire time. This is a similar situation to barbecuing a whole hog. The appeal is not so much the succulent pork, as it the excuse to stay up for twenty four hours and drink beer while said hog cooks. The Chatham Artillery takes the task of guarding their punch quite seriously….
However, I know that most of my readers are not so patient. And I didn’t have two months until Mixology Monday: Limit One. So how do we achieve the necessary blending of fruit and liquors in a time frame acceptable to the Yankees and foreigners who make up most of my readership? Fortunately, I have access to the advanced research talents of Maggi the Chemist.
Let’s employ some… SCIENCE!
The process we are performing here is simply a marination. Marination can be accelerated nicely by employing a vacuum. One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is the FoodSaver system. For the cocktailians among you, you want the FoodSaver WineSaver. It is mostly useful for storing opened wine for an amazingly long time, but in conjunction with the canisters you can buy, it makes a heckuva marinator. Put your mixed ingredients in a canister or two, depending on size, and suck out all the air. Then store in the fridge for about two days. After that, you can store it in large, open-mouthed jars, unvacummed, until needed, and get your canisters back. Still, the longer you store it, the better. As a control, I put the punch that I could not vacuum seal in a cooler in my cold garage, for comparison later. It really does taste different after only two days. Either vacuum marinate your punch, or get started early.
When the time comes, serve up however much you desire, making sure to include some fruit pieces in each serving. Add champage, not so much to taste as to feel. The bubbles will hide any remaining edge to this potent, delicious mix. Call it one or two bottles per punch bowl, or a generous float if you’re serving by the glass. The cool thing is that you can store your punch base in jars for a long time. You don’t have to have a party. Oh, and the Pirate’s House suggests that bottles of the punch can make excellent gifts.
The resulting punch is a deliciously fruity, lively, and mild-tasting tipple that could fuel a party on a trip straight to Perdition. Serve it in a highball and it really is a Limit One drink. Serve it in little cups that go with a punch bowl, and your guests will never stop at one. Which means they won’t stop at three. Which means you need to get a kickback from the cab company arranged before you have your party. Oh, and lock up the breakables and innocent women early that afternoon.
Seriously folks, this stuff is a delicious, silken hammer. Be careful. I’ll leave you with this excerpt from a story about a family that persists in serving Chatham Artillery Punch at its weddings.
From a tort point of view it was dangerous stuff, but we certainly enjoyed it…. I have seen single women kiss my priest in front of his wife, old men stick their tongues down The Bride’s throat, insane grab-ass on an unparallelled scale (often by me) at my mother’s parties after this Punch was deployed. All with great Anglican harumphing. My poor mother knew not what she wrought.