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George Washington's Punch

This recipe came to us from the Reverend William Ralston. It was actually the Mount Vernon Christmas punch he got from Martha Washington Jackson, which she had from her aunt, Mrs. George A. Washington (Quennie Woods, who lived at Sewanee). They were both part of the collateral Washington family.

Father Ralston felt that the special thing about this punch is the way all those alcohols mix and blend. “It is as smooth as velvet”, he used to say. “It also does not leave you feeling ‘punchy’ the next day, although you certainly can drink too much of it. It also makes the base for the world’s best old fashioned ---- add soda water and an orange slice. Divine!”


1 quart strong brewed English Breakfast tea, sweetened

1 gallon good-quality bourbon

1 gallon sherry

1 quart sweet vermouth

1 pint best-quality Jamaican rum

1 pint yellow or green Chartreuse

4 bottles champagne, or more to taste (the Academy uses about 10 bottles)

12 lemons, each cut into 4 wedges

1 quart maraschino cherries, without stems but with their juice


Combine the first six ingredients. When it is time to serve the punch, add champagne -- as much as you wish. Add lemon wedges and cherries to the punch and serve. (The punch is much improved if allowed to stand for at least 1 week before serving.)

An ice ring (made in a Bundt pan filled halfway with water and the cherries) looks good and helps keep the punch cold when serving.