Punches have been prominent at South Carolina social gatherings from the state’s beginnings.
Punches have been prominent at South Carolina social gatherings from the state’s beginnings. When Eliza Lucas Pinckney recorded her favorite receipts (recipes) in 1756 at her plantation north of Charleston, she included one for the Duke of Norfolk Punch, made with twelve pounds of sugar, thirty oranges plus five and one-half quarts of juice, thirty lemons plus three and one-half quarts of juice, and a gallon of rum. Though men often drank rum, “slings,” “flipps,” “toddies,” beer, and claret at home, they also enjoyed drinking in the rowdy atmosphere of the city’s many taverns. Women also drank socially, at the parties and balls that were frequent in Charleston town houses, on the neighboring plantations, and in the elegant buildings that were built by the numerous private “societies.” Women drank imported wines, including fortified sherry, Madeira, and port, but they also made their own liqueurs such as ratafia from peach kernels, brandy, and sugar. Punches, which were favored throughout the colonies, were made to serve a crowd, and individual recipes were named for particular social clubs, such as the St. Cecilia Society or the Cotillion Club. The tradition continued for three hundred years. When the Junior League of Charleston published its fundraiser cookbook Charleston Receipts in 1950, it began with sixteen pages of recipes for beverages, many of them for punches that serve hundreds. The book has been the most successful of its kind and has remained in print after more than fifty years. Some of the recipes begin with a base of tea, long a favorite in the lowcountry, and most include tropical fruit such as citrus or pineapple. Some are variations of eggnog, such as “Flip,” which was popular in seventeenth-century England. With changes in both social structure and liquor laws in South Carolina, punches have fallen out of favor.
Fraser, Walter J. Charleston! Charleston! The History of a Southern City. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989.
Junior League of Charleston. Charleston Receipts. Charleston, S.C.: Walker, Evans and Cogswell, 1950.
Pinckney, Eliza Lucas. Recipe Book of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, 1756. Charleston, S.C.: J. Furlong, 1936.