Roll With the Punches

- by

A classic recipe, adapted

IN SIMPLER TIMES, we might encourage you to blend up a berry smoothie or a green juice, bursting with leafy greens and good-for-you benefits. Right now, though, something stronger is in order. 

Despite the many comparisons, for most of us, fighting a virus looks nothing like fighting a war — rather than show up on the front lines, we’ve simply been asked to stay home. Still, coronavirus and its insidious health, social and economic impacts have left us burned-out and bone-tired. But here as ever, history offers some lessons, and Savannahians past and present have always seen fit to raise their collective spirits through a boozy batch of Chatham Artillery Punch. 

Some say George Washington himself enjoyed a glass of the city’s most famous punch
 in 1791, while others contend the recipe was more likely developed by local hotelkeeperA.C. Luce during the 1850s for a gathering of militiamen. Others still suggest that women stirred up the first batch, sneaking it over to Chatham Artillery officers, who added their own touches over the years. An indisputable fact: Chatham Artillery Punch is a wickedly strong concoction. One early recipe, for instance, called for two gallons of wine, a gallon of rum, a quart each of gin and brandy, the juice from three dozen lemons, and a whopping six bottles of champagne. (It seems important to note that this is meant to serve 160 people, though in Savannah, what constitutes a serving size is up for debate.) 

In the interest of streamlining for the times, we’ve distilled Chatham Artillery Punch down to its simplest variation. Bonus: No cleaning the blender.

SIMPLE CHATHAM ARTILLERY PUNCH makes about 2 quarts or one half gallon

6 lemons 1c sugar

  • 1/2  a 750 ml bottle of cognac
  • 1/2  a 750 ml bottle of bourbon
  • 1/2  a 750 ml bottle of Jamaican dark rum

1 bottle of Champagne or dry sparkling wine

Mason jar Ice

Step 1: Make lemon shrub

Peel the lemons. Place peels in a Mason jar, add the sugar and shake to combine. Next, juice the lemons and add resulting lemon juice to the peels and sugar. Shake vigorously and allow enough time for the sugar to dissolve, even overnight. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Step 2: Make the punch

Pour the shrub (peels and all!), cognac, bourbon and rum into a large punch bowl or pitcher filled about halfway with ice. Stir. Just before serving, add the bottle of Champagne, and stir gently to combine.