What’s the best way to turn an enemy into a friend? Share a cocktail, of course.
When General William T. Sherman traveled south in the famous March to the Sea, he left a 30 miles wide and 300 miles long wake of destruction behind him. When his Union Army reached Savannah in 1864, the townsfolk did what they did best—they threw a party and invited every Yankee in sight! That is how, so sayeth the legend, the Chatham Artillery Punch went down in history as the cocktail that spared a city from the Civil War.
Named for the oldest military organization in Georgia, the Chatham Artillery Punch is as synonymous with Savannah as Martinis are with New York. Around since at least 1800, the Punch was originally made en mass in horse buckets and is one of the very few quintessentially American cocktails to survive Prohibition intact (never get between Savannahians and their tipples).
So it should not come as a surprise that the American Prohibition Museum in Savannah is one of the best places in town to try one; the museum is dedicated not so much to Prohibition’s virtues as to its failures. Indeed, it has a recreated speakeasy at the end of the exhibits with a menu chock-full of historical concoctions. The Chatham Artillery Punch is right at the top.
“Our version is the oldest version we could find, around 1870,” says the museum’s head bartender Jason Rabe, and he warns that the Punch is so old and so popular as to have several versions, some entirely different from the original and far weaker. “They have very little booze, with mostly wine or sweeteners.”
In other words, it’s not a Chatham Artillery Punch if it doesn’t have, well, punch.
Chatham Artillery Punch
- 1/2 oz. Old Forrester Bourbon
- 1/2 oz. Bacardi Superior
- 1/2 oz. Sacred Bond Brandy, bonded
- 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup or Oleo Saccharum
- 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
- 3 oz. Dry Sparkling Wine
Preparation: Combine bourbon, rum, brandy, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a collins glass over freshly crushed ice. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon wheel and mint sprig.