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These days, most people observe George Washington’s birthday with a shopping spree for discounted merchandise or by carving up the slopes. While we’re not sure exactly how the Founding Father himself would have preferred you to celebrate, it most certainly would have been a lot more spirited.
Washington is famous for his Revolutionary War heroism and his role helping to form this country, but what’s usually skipped over in history class is that he was also an extremely successful spirits manufacturer after he left office. At Mount Vernon, his home in Virginia, Washington built a large distillery. The operation was run by Scottish farm manager James Anderson and at its peak produced an estimated 11,000 gallons of whiskey per year, plus brandy and possibly rum. (With the help of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the distillery was recently rebuilt and makes a small amount of liquor, which is available for purchase at the estate.)
But hard alcohol wasn’t the only tipple that Washington enjoyed. His beloved wife, Martha, was known for her Rum Punch, which she often served to their many guests. Fortunately, you no longer need to be a dignitary to try the refreshing concoction. The acclaimed bar Forty Four in Midtown Manhattan’s trendy Royalton Hotel, which is run by the Cocktail Collective—a group of six of the country’s top mixologists, including Liquor.com advisor Willy Shine—now offers a version of Mrs. Washington’s drink.
We got the establishment’s recipe, so you can mix up a bowl and properly toast the Washingtons. Happy Presidents’ Day!
Martha Washington Punch
Contributed by the Cocktail Collective
- 9 oz Flor de Caña 4-Year-Old Gold Rum
- 12 oz Appleton Estate Extra 12-Year-Old Rum
- 6 oz Grand Marnier
- 9 oz Fresh lemon juice
- 9 oz Fresh orange juice
- 9 oz Spiced Simple Syrup*
- 6 oz Club soda
- Garnish: Nutmeg, lemon and orange half-wheels
- Glass: Punch
Add all the ingredients except the club soda to a pitcher or other container and stir to combine. Refrigerate until cold. Place a large ice block into a punch bowl (or fill halfway with large ice cubes). Add the prepared mixture and the club soda, and stir. Garnish with lemon and orange half-wheels and grated nutmeg.
*Spiced Simple Syrup
- 1.5 cups Water
- 1.5 cups Sugar
- 2 Star anise pods
- 1 to 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 4 to 5 Whole cloves
Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar fully dissolves. Remove from heat and let stand until cool. Strain, and refrigerate until needed.