I had been to Mount Vernon before, a lovely trip it was, about four years ago. Now, as you’ve been reading here on my blog, I’m a historian – a mere man who vows to tell history like it was – but, my utmost calling is that of the bloody, exciting, and treacherous tale of the America Revolution. And, not to mention, my focus there, amongst the great leaders of that time, is and has been General George Washington.
To, quite literally, stand where the father of our great country stood, and touch items that Washington touched, is an important honor, one that most don’t understand and should, in my opinion, only be bestowed upon a few who are actually deserving. Having visited Washington’s home changed my life.
Years ago, during my first visit through the museum, I’d challenged myself to trivia about the General’s life and enveloped myself into the time when one of the greatest men that ever walked the earth lived. It was an exciting time, a time of great change and utmost uncertainty. And, Washington withstood it all, from start to finish.
One of the most educational experiences for me that stood out during my first visit, was learning about George Washington’s death, and how out young country handled the aftermath of such a profound man’s existence. The sadness I felt, the loss millions felt back then, took its toll on me. By the time I got to the end of the exhibit, I was practically in tears.
This time around, however, during my second visit and probably my last one for a while, I took away two important experiences. The first being learning a little unknown fact while on the “National Treasure” tour. Bob, our tour guide, told us, at the end of the trip, with the mighty Potomac to our backs, that Washington insisted on being called “General Washington.” The once-president, having served his two terms, had recently retired, and told guests that visited his estate, that only the current president of the time was to labelled as so, and he was, in fact, just the General.
I found that so humbling and my love for the once-southern gentleman grew leaps and bounds that day.
The second item that stuck with me is one of authenticity. After my group finished touring Mount Vernon, was spent some time at the Mount Vernon Inn, enjoying each other’s company and local libations. After sampling some popular cocktails and Budweiser’s Freedom Reserve (Red Lager) – the drink that was recently released under one of the closest recipes to that of George Washington’s back in the day – I was in the mood for something stronger, more authentic.
I turned to the bartender and said, “I’m in the mood for something colonial… you know, something strong… something the founding fathers would have had.” So, without hesitation, she turned back to me and said, “How about the Fish House Punch?” Legend has it, that after the war was won, Washington took to a local tavern with his men and toasted the 13 colonies… 13 times… with steins full of Fish House Punch. Now, Washington was an impeccable record keeper, but after his party, he didn’t keep any records for three days. There had been a mysterious jump in time when no words were written whatsoever. So, when I say that the punch was lethal, it was strong!
And now, without further adieu, here is the recipe for the drink that forced time to stop in its tracks…
Jamaican rum, 2 qts
Cognac brandy, 1 qt
Loaf sugar, 3/4 lb
Water, 2 qts; spring water is indicated
Lemon juice, 1 qt; lime would have been even more delicate
Peach brandy, 1 wine glass
Mix ingredients into a clear punch bowl and refrigerate for three hours. Serve cold with fine slices of citrus fruit.
Have you been to Mount Vernon? What was your most memorable experience there?