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Martha Washington was an important figure in the history of the United States. Not only was she the first, First Lady, but she was also a life-long companion to George Washington, his confidante and the manager of his all-important Mount Vernon Estate. And she also made his booze. Not all of it, mind you, but much of it. Historians have found George Washington's personal beer recipe and eggnog recipes, both drinks were actually no-doubt made by Martha, not by George.

Perhaps even more important are her OWN, personal recipes. And the one that we'd like to shine the spotlight on in this article is that one, moreso than any of the others, that will definitely make you walk funny if you drink too much of it! We're talking - Rum Punch. And specifically - Martha Washington's personal rum punch recipe!

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.

martha washington

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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