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Ahhhh......the 4th of July: the only American holiday that truly celebrates America! From barbecues, time on the lake, a camp out or simply a day off of work, there's something for each of us to enjoy this Independence Day.

Often times our enjoyment is enhanced through the indulgence of an alcoholic beverage--or ten--and an obscene amount of fireworks. This year to help enhance your 4th of July experience we want to suggest a new beverage of choice (unfortunately we can't help you in the fireworks department--liability concerns and the such). Specifically we'd like to turn you on to Rum Punch!

First, a little history. Rum punch was a staple of the pirate-infested Caribbean dating back to the 1600's, partly because of beer's tendency to go bad in warmer climates and partly because the punch helped to hold scurvy at bay due the abundance of citrus fruit in the drink.

It was a focus of many a pirate's plundering activities and a long surviving rumor maintains that one--and probably more--buccaneer went so far as to sell his wife for some of the concoction.

Years later it also was a favorite of the founding fathers, and they drank 14 bowls of Rum Punch--in addition to mass quantities of other alcohols--at the City Tavern while celebrating the signing of the Constitution. George Washington's wife, Martha, was known to have made one of the finest punches in the new world, large quantities of which he was oftentimes known to travel with.

So why not celebrate in the same manner as the founding fathers and whip up a bowl of Martha Washington's very own Rum Punch? Following is her original recipe - note it's pretty weak (despite the fact her husband was a celebrated drinker). Where she adds a 1/2 cup, we add a full pint of rum. Mix it up yourself and then experiment.

  • ½ cup white rum (WE add a pint)
  • ½ cup dark rum (WE add a pint)
  • Juice and rind of 5 lemons
  • Juice and rind of 4 oranges
  • 1 orange cut into pinwheels
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 cups water


Mix the water, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil.

Once the sugar has dissolved boil it for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Mix the lemon juice, lemon rind, orange juice, and orange rind into the boiling sugar.

Take the pot off the heat and let it sit for 1 hour.

Strain out all solids.

Add both rums and mix well.


Serve with an orange pinwheel slice floating on top and a sprinkle of nutmeg to spice it up.

And there you have it, Martha Washington's Rum Punch! So this Independence Day, why not whip up a batch and toast to our great nation, our founding fathers, pirates from the Caribbean and, of course, Rum Punch itself, the drink of our founding fathers. 

If you want to know more about rum punches, or you want some more recipes, check out Weldon Owen's book, Punches.

And remember, if you start drinking rum before 10 am you aren't an alcoholic, you're a pirate (arrrrrr)!

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