In 1862, Jerry Thomas published The Bartender’s Guide, the first book of cocktail recipes. Every week, we tackle one of his recipes. Turns out they did things differently back then.
For our first attempt at a Thomas original, we took on recipe 27, a delectation he calls “Punch Jelly.” It’s essentially a 19th-century version of the Jell-O shot. Except, instead of using gelatin like a civilized human, the recipe calls for isinglass, aka fish bladders. More on that in a jiff.
Punch Jelly is a modification of recipe 26, “Punch à la Ford,” a beautiful, little bauble featuring lemons, sugar, water, Cognac and rum named for “the late General Ford, who for many years was the commanding engineer at Dover, kept a most hospitable board, and used to make punch on a large scale.” Hard to go wrong with that setup, we thought. This was before we added the fish bladders.