Spirits: Recipe: Quoit Club Punch

The following is an excerpt from Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, available here.

Quoit Club Punch

The thirty members of the Richmond, Virginia, Quoit Club, founded in 1788, met every other Saturday from May until October “under the shade of some fine oaks,” as one visitor recalled, at Buchanan’s Spring, right outside of town. There they would throw the heavy, ringlike quoits at posts, eat barbecue and drink themselves silly on Mint Julep, Toddy and this, the club’s Punch, which was prepared with great skill by Jasper Crouch, their black cook.

 The club’s most famous member was one of its founders, John Marshall, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1801 until his death in 1835, the longest tenure in the court’s history. For a great man, Marshall retained a sense of humor. As the story goes, on his watch the court cut down on the convivial tippling that had been such a part of colonial public life to the point that the justices only allowed themselves wine when the weather was wet. But, as Joseph Story, one of his fellow justices, used to recount,

It does sometimes happen that the Chief Justice will say to me, when the cloth is removed, “Brother Story, step to the window and see if it does not look like rain.” And if I tell him that the sun is shining brightly, Judge Marshall will sometimes reply, “All the better, for our jurisdiction extends over so large a territory that the doctrine of chances makes it certain that it must be raining somewhere.

Now that’s legal reasoning.


“The following recipe for the punch used I got from an old Virginia gentleman: lemons, brandy, rum, madeira, poured into a bowl one-third filled with ice (no water), and sweetened. This same recipe was used by the Richmond Light Infantry Blues, an organization that covered itself with glory during our Civil War. The Blues served this punch for years in a handsome India china bowl which held thirty-two gallons and which they greatly mourned when it was lost when the Spotswood Hotel burned on Christmas Eve, 1870.”

SOURCE : Sallie E. Marshall Hardy, “John Marshall, Third Chief Justice of the United States, as Son, Brother, Husband and Friend” in The Green Bag, December 1896


Prepare an “oleo-saccharum” by muddling the peel of 12 lemons in 2 cups of light, fine-grained raw sugar, letting it sit for an hour o two to wick out the lemon oil, and muddling it again. Add 2 cups of strained lemon juice and stir until sugar has dissolved. Add one 750-milliliter bottle each of Jamaican rum, VSOP cognac and rainwater Madeira. Stir well and pour into Punch bowl filled a third of the way with ice cubes. Stir and let sit in cool place for twenty minutes before serving.


Do not operate heavy machinery or make constitutional law after consuming this. For the rum, I like something in the “Planter’s Best” style here, such as the Plantation Vintage 2000 Jamaican Rum or Appleton V/X, with just maybe a dollop of the “Pirate Juice” style, such as Smith & Cross rum or Pusser’s Navy Rum, to spark it up.

YIELD : 12 cups.

Copyright 2010 by David Wondrich. Used by permission of the author