Photography: Martha Washington’s kitchen at Mount Vernon/Library of Congress

This Independence Day, entertain with a party drink worthy of a first lady.

Martha Washington, America’s inaugural First Lady, was as accomplished a host as her husband was a war hero and politician. This recipe, adapted and reprinted from George Washington’s Mount Vernon recipe database, is as faithful an interpretation of a party punch the Founding Mother would have served at her estate. Rum might seem an odd spirit for an American of any stripe to serve, but in the Colonial Era, rum was one of America’s favorite liquors. We can tip our tri-corne hats and cowboy hats, to her and George.

Martha Washington’s Rum Punch

(Serves 6 – 10)

1 orange quartered
3 lemons quartered
3 cinnamon sticks, broken
6 cloves
½ tablespoon grated nutmeg
4 ounces simple syrup
4 ounces lemon juice
4 ounces fresh orange juice
12 ounces boiling water
3 ounces white rum
3 ounces dark rum
3 ounces orange curacao

In a large, heat-resistant bowl, mash the orange, lemons, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg. Add the syrup, lemon, and orange juices.

Pour the boiling water over the mixture in the bowl. Let cool for a few minutes to allow the spices to open. When cool, add the white rum, dark rum, and orange curacao. Strain well into a pitcher or punch bowl (to remove all of the spice marinade).

Serve over ice in goblets and decorate with wheels of lemon and orange.

Recipe reprinted and adapted from George Washington’s Mount Vernon. For more recipes and information on Martha Washington’s recipes, visit


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