The Wall Street Journal‘s Eric Felten, a jazz trombonist who happens to write the killer “How’s Your Drink?” column, combed through some 19th century cookbooks to find a decent recipe for Orange Punch, the libation that nearly toppled Andrew Jackson‘s presidency even before it was a day old. OK, maybe I exaggerate.
“A monstrous crowd of people is in the city,” Daniel Webster wrote on Inauguration Day, 1829. “I never saw any thing like it before. Persons have come five hundred miles to see General Jackson; and they really seem to think that the country is rescued from some dreadful danger.”
After the oath and his address, the old general climbed on his horse and headed for the White House. As one witness told it: “The President was literally pursued by a motley concourse of people, riding, running helter-skelter, striving who should first gain admittance into the executive mansion, where it was understood that refreshments were to be distributed.”
The unruly bunch pushed into the White House, clods standing on the silk-upholstered furniture in muddy boots to get a glimpse of the new president (who was trying not to be crushed by his well-wishers). “The reign of King Mob seemed triumphant,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, appalled. When the stewards finally delivered buckets full of Orange Punch, the crowd lunged for the pails, overturning furniture, smashing the glassware, and — perhaps worst of all — spilling the punch itself. Quick-thinking waiters lugged the remaining barrels of punch out onto the White House lawn, enticing Jackson’s admirers to take the party outside.
Felten didn’t care much for the Orange Punch recipes he read—-“it isn’t anything I’d trample White House furniture to get at,” he writes—-so he devised his own version of the sweet rum-and-brandy punch. You can get Felten’s doctored up recipe here.
Image by Flickr user tostadophoto