Today I will be thinking about how George Washington threw a party. One of the many things I was delighted to learn about the father of our country was that he really (I mean really, as in doing so for hours) LOVED to dance and so enjoyed balls. There is a sweet story that once he was president, Washington became very aware that people were over-awed by him--so much so that those gathered at parties would cease to dance to gawk at him or would become too self conscious to fully enjoy themselves. So sometimes Washington would half conceal himself behind doorways to watch his younger guests dance.
He was quite the host, once paying 18 shillings to bring a camel to his 1787 Christmas party to amuse his guests.
He also made a heck of a punch. I discovered a recipe for it in the cookbook memoir of one of my favorite authors, the late great Pat Conroy. (Page 203 if you have the book.) We made it last Christmas and presented it to our family dinner party with fanfare. The recipe combined an alarming amount of liquor, and yet was, as Mr. Conroy quoted a friend of his saying, "smooth as velvet."
Here is Mt. Vernon's suggested recipe for Martha's punch:
Remember, though, if you make this 18th century punch that George and Martha's guests weren't going anywhere after imbibing, except upstairs to their guest rooms! This is one to enjoy with your feet up at home with loved ones.
Happy New Year!