Old Punch

America’s first president, George Washington, was known to be fond of a drink or two, and sometimes more. He indulged in thirteen toasts — one for each state — during a victory celebration at New York’s Fraunces Tavern, and it is said that after he partook of Fish House punch at Philadelphia’s State in Schuylkill, he couldn’t bring himself to make an entry in his diary for the following three days.

Regan, Gary (2003). The Joy of Mixology. New York: Clarkson Potter. p. 3.

This is a look or two at traditional American punch. Our founders arrived by boat after months at sea, and they drank. Wine was sometimes safer than water. It kept people in good spirits. Liquor helped in the long winters up north, and alcohol was considered an edifying and essential part of social clubs.

Alcohol was used for medicine and a medicinal solvent. It was a form of currency, and Western Pennsylvania, in its infancy, used rye whisky as a bartering commodity. The Whisky Tax imposed on communities West of the Allegheny Mountains was fiercely contested by settlers who depended on its ability to bring resources to the frontier. The new national government showed it could stomp the peasants when needed. George Washington had marched through those communities in the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, and his leadership helped preserve the union of the colonial states.

Peach schnapps, cognac, rum, simple syrup and chilled black tea or seltzer to keep it from knocking you under the table. Basically, our founders drank MD 20/20.

The Whisky Rebellion lead to a meeting on Braddock’s Field 40.40305°N 79.86337°W where rebels decided to form a new country consisting of six counties in PA Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Westmoreland, Washington and Bedford and Ohio county in Virginia in presnt-day Wheeling, WV.

In Kentucky, enforcement was basically impossible, and bootlegging flourished.

Feature image ‘Coalies’, fsb 2020, taken in Brownsville, PA next to the Monongahela River.

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