Among the drinks at the Williamson Museum’s new History Happy Hour is the Chatham Artillery Punch — a worthy (and very potent) beverage for the event, as it comes with quite a long Southern backstory.
The punch, originally concocted by Georgia’s oldest military unit (thus the name), was served at a variety of celebrations in the 19th century, including a presidential visit from James Monroe in 1819. And with a recipe that calls for rum, bourbon or rye, Cognac and champagne, it knocked quite a few of the soldiers who drank it off their feet.
That’s certainly not going to happen at the Williamson Museum’s happy hour. But you will be transported back to that long-ago century at the Friday event. Back to the year 1860, that is, to face a pressing question that all the residents of Williamson County had to grapple with: Should Texas secede from the Union? At the happy hour, you’ll listen to a brief debate in support of and against secession, then vote on what to do — all while enjoying period appetizers and cocktails, including the Chatham Artillery Punch.
Mickie Ross, executive director of the museum, also plans to have beer, whiskey and a blackberry punch at the happy hour, which she hopes to have about four times a year.
If you’re ever hosting a happy hour of your own, this punch will certainly guarantee a good time — just be sure you’ll have enough guests to help you drink it.
Chatham Artillery Punch
1 lb. super fine sugar
750 ml. bottle bourbon or rye
750 ml. bottle Cognac
750 ml. bottle dark Jamaican rum
3 bottles Champagne or other sparkling wine
Squeeze and strain the lemons to make 16 oz. of juice. Peel the lemons and muddle the peels with the sugar. Let the peels and sugar sit for an hour, then muddle again. Add the lemon juice and stir until sugar has dissolved. Strain out the peels.
Fill a 2 to 4 gallon bucket or bowl with crushed ice or ice cubes. Add the lemon-sugar mixture and the bourbon, Cognac and rum. Stir and add the Champagne. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Grate nutmeg over the top and serve.
— Adapted from David Wondrich
The Williamson Museum’s History Happy Hour. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday. $10 to $15. The Williamson County Courthouse, 716 S. Austin Ave. 512-943-1670, http://www.thewilliamsonmuseum.org.