Once mixed in a bucket, Old Chatham Artillery Punch is a strong, celebratory tipple

Southern Kitchen
Rum punch/file photo

About the recipe

One of the oldest and most well-known American punch bowl recipes comes from Savannah, GA: Chatham Artillery Punch. Mixed in a bucket by the local militia, it was both a celebration and a challenge for visiting dignitaries in the early 1800s.

Booze heavy, the punch is a mix of oleo-saccharum, or lemon-oil sugar, and the three spirits readily available in the mid-nineteenth century: cognac, rum and bourbon. It's topped off with equal portions of sparkling wine for a celebratory note. Spring for Champagne if you really want to impress.

A note of warning: This is a punch for a larger party. Also, cheap gas station or grocery store ice is just fine to use here because you need the dilution. Save the fancy ice ring mold for a less potent punch.

Serves: At least 20

Hands on time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes


12 lemons

2 cups light raw sugar

1 (750-ml) bottle VSOP cognac

1 (750-ml) bottle bourbon

1 (750-ml) bottle Jamaican-style rum

3 (750-ml) bottles brut Champagne, chilled

1 (5-pound) bag ice


Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons, leaving as much of the white pith behind as possible. Reserve the peeled lemons for the punch.

Place the peels in a large bowl and add the sugar. Use a muddler or a wooden spoon to firmly pound and grind the peels into the sugar, releasing their essential oils. Cover and leave the mixture to sit in a warm place until the sugar as liquefied and the lemon peels have more fully released their oils, about 1 hour. Muddle the mixture again.

Halve the lemons and juice them into the bowl with the peel-sugar mixture. Stir and then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl with a spout. Strain into an empty 750-ml bottle. Add enough water to fill any remaining space in the bottle, seal, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, combine the cognac, bourbon, rum and lemon juice mixture. Add ice to the bowl, leaving enough room for the Champagne. Stir to chill and dilute the punch. Top off with the Champagne, smile and serve.