The brisk winds and cool temperatures sweeping across Atlanta today reminded me that only a few weeks remain to brew up a delicious Savannah tradition for the coming holidays. I'm sure the old money - and new money wannabes - have already set aside a batch for Christmas, New Year's Eve , and Twelfth Night gatherings. Of course the batch were talking about is Chatham Artillery Punch, by far the city's most historic and memorable beverage.
In 1977, I was introduced to Chatham Artillery Punch at the so comfortable but long-gone Lion's Den in the DeSoto Hilton in Savannah. It reminded me of rumtopf only it was better. Much better. The elite military unit for which it is named, one of the oldest in the nation, has a storied history of defending Georgia and the United States for over two centuries, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today the unit serves as the 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery. The punch always graces their celebration of Saint Barbara's Day and Christmas. I can think of no better way to end a traditional celebration of Christmas in Georgia than enjoying one cup of this wonderful drink among family, friends and colleagues.
Chatham Artillery Punch (for 50 guests)
Juice of 10 lemons
1 1/4 pounds brown sugar
2 quarts Catawba wine (a red muscadine will be easier to find and work just as well)
2 quarts Santa Cruz rum (use Virgin Islands style rum, light or dark)
1 quart brandy
1 quart dry gin (I like the flavorings in Bombay Sapphire)
1 quart rye whiskey
3 pints Queen Anne cherries
3 pints pineapple chunks
3 quarts champagne
Regardless of how you plan to enjoy Chatham Artillery Punch, know that your expense and anticipation will be rewarded. I once brewed a batch for eight weeks. It was legendary.