Fish House Punch. If all you had to go by was the name — and not the delectable/semi-creepy picture above — you might not be inclined to give this one a try. The moniker conjures up the image of some sort of horrific chum slurry, produced in a seafood market, poured in a bucket and sloshed out into the ocean, attracting sharks and repelling significant others.
The real drink is worth a second look and more than a second sip. Cocktail historian David Wondrich calls it “one of the most pleasant inebriants known to science,” which should be all the endorsement anyone needs to start gathering their ingredients and their friends for a night of shared frivolity around a punch bowl.
Shared frivolity is exactly what this drink was created for, ostensibly in 1732, by a group of prosperous Philadelphian gentlemen for their club, The State in Schuylkill, also known as the “Fish House,” given the members’ fondness for the sport of fishing. But if fishing was a recreational activity the well-to-do members enjoyed, so too was partaking in cigars and drink, and what better to drink than a punch suffused with three different liquors and a bit of citrus and sugar to help it go down?
If you haven’t had the pleasure of partaking in a cup of this crowd pleaser, you’d best make your way to New York, New York, and inside the oasis that is Cienfuegos. Located above a bitters tasting room in East Village, Cienfuegos–which Liquor.com included in its 2015 list of the best bars in America–is an homage to Cuba’s culinary riches.
Rum, not surprisingly, is something they know very well in Cuba, and it is of course, a key ingredient in Fish House Punch.
Jane Danger, who, besides having what is possibly the world’s coolest name, is also Cienfuegos’ beverage director, was happy to share with us some thoughts about how she makes the popular Caribbean Fish House Punch they serve at the restaurant and bar.
So, what makes for a really good version of a Fish House punch? What are some tips and tricks that we can use to really make this cocktail sing?
For me, a really good Fish House is all about the balance between the fruity cognac, funky Jamaican rum, and lush peach Brandy. The peach Brandy is actually really hard to come by these days. We use a French peach liqueur and balance it out with more Cognac in the recipe. My friend Mayur Subbarao gifted me a bottle of real peach Brandy. We made so many Fish Houses that winter. It’s a really different drink with the real stuff. That’s why we call our version the Caribbean Fish House Punch.
What are some common missteps people make when attempting this cocktail? What should we avoid doing?
A common misstep in many punches is not using fresh juice. In this punch, fresh lemon juice and a great peach liquor is key. The peach brings the cognac and Jamaican rum together.
Whether you need a nightcap for yourself or a bowl drink to share with friends, Jane Danger and Cienfuegos have you covered with this recipe:
- Caribbean Fish House Punch
- 1 dash Tiki bitters
- 1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
- 1/2 oz Cane syrup
- 3/4 oz Lemon juice
- 3/4 oz Peach liqueur
- 3/4 oz Perrier Ferrand Cognac
- 1 oz Hamilton Gold Jamaican Rum
- 1 oz Sparkling wine
- Lemon wheels for garnish
- Shake all ingredients except for the sparkling wine together, then pour over a chunk of ice.
- Top with 1 oz sparkling wine.
- Garnish with lemon wheels.
This is a single serving size. For a small punch bowl, you would want to multiply this recipe by three.