RECIPE: Eli Mason's Peach House Punch

Courtney from Hey Rooster General Store in East Nashville held a peach potluck yesterday to celebrate the beginning of peach season here in Tennessee. The always-delectable Legato Gelato was there with two flavors to sample, as were City House and Yeast Nashville (cheese cookies with peach preserves!). Eli knocked together a peachy twist on the classic American Fish House Punch recipe from 1732, which we're calling Peach House Punch (full recipe below).

It's a strong drink, well balanced but not very sweet. Makes you wonder how the founding fathers got anything done in the afternoons. No air conditioning + fancy clothing + drinking punch all day sounds like a recipe for siesta. But in a modern setting, this punch will enliven your get-togethers and delight any guest who wants to drink like George Washington.

Though it takes a little forethought, this recipe can be assembled quickly before the party and allows guests to serve themselves, freeing you up to attend to the more rewarding hosting duties of eating and socializing.

Eli Mason's Peach House Punch

Initial Prep

24-48 hours before the party, begin by making an ice ring for the punchbowl and some Oleo-Saccharum (sounds exotic but it's easy to make).

First, assemble all your Ingredients:

  • 750 mL Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum (or any dark, aged rum with a strong flavor)
  • 750 mL inexpensive brandy
  • 1500 mL water (two rum bottles' worth)
  • 2 oz. Fee Brothers Peach Bitters
  • 4 oz. Eli Mason Demerara Syrup
  • 6-8 cups of black tea, regular strength, unsweetened
  • 1-2 fresh peaches
  • 4 lemons, peels and juice
  • 1 cup sugar

Make the Ice Ring by peeling the fresh peaches and slicing them into a bundt pan. Top off with the black tea. Cover and pop in the freezer overnight (or up to one week before the party).

Oleo-Saccharum is just sugar that has been infused with the oil from lemon peels. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from the 4 lemons (avoiding the white pith) and drop the pieces of peel into a screw-top jar. Top with the sugar and give it a good shake. Then leave it on the counter to work its magic. The sugar will gradually turn yellow and begin to clump together.

If you won't be using it within 24 hours, leave the jar in the fridge (up to one week). (Hat tip to David Wondrich who demonstrated this technique for making Oleo-Saccharum at the Music City Spirits & Cocktail Festival in May.)

While you're at it, juice the lemons and set the juice aside for the final punch.

Final Assembly

A few hours before the event, assemble the rest of the ingredients in the punchbowl, starting with the rum, water, and Oleo-Saccharum, discarding the lemon peels and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the brandy, bitters, fresh lemon juice, and Demerara syrup and give it one more good stir. Cover and set in a cool place.

Add the ice ring one hour before service.

Yield is around one gallon (or one large punchbowl), which should accommodate 30 guests over 2-3 hours. That is, unless your guests are 18th century sailors, in which case you should multiply this recipe by 8.

We suggest you leave the Oleo-Saccharum jar on the counter so you can brag to your guests about this magical mixture. And read up on the State in Schuylkill where this pre-Revolutionary War libation originated.