Peggy O’Neill Punch – Recipe from the ‘Old Waldorf Bar Guide’
After an opera or play of that name, it is believed. The original Peggy O’Neill was the daughter of a Washington tavern-keeper noted for her beauty and wit. First married to a purser in the U. S. Navy named Timberlake, who, a few years later, committed suicide, her second husband was Major J. H. Eaton, who soon afterward became Secretary of War in Andrew Jacksons cabinet. For many years she was the center of a great scandal in Washington, and on her account Jackson reorganized his cabinet. After the death of her husband, she married an Italian dancing master many years younger than herself, who, before she divorced him, had squandered much of her property. Occasionally, there is a good story behind the name of a drink.
One dash Parfait d’Amour
One Lime Peel in center of glass
One drink Rye Whiskey
Three sprigs Mint
Fill with Seltzer
I’m not sure I can do a better job than Crockett regarding the history of this drink.
Dancing master, tennis coach, pool guy; it’s funny how much and little things change through the ages.
Peggy O’Neill was responsible for almost bringing down President Andrew Jacksons government in 1831 in what was called the Petticoat Affair. What Crockett missed out was that Peggy and her first husband became good friends with John Eaton, who developed quite a liking for Peggy, and arranged for a lucrative posting for him in the US Navy’s Mediterranean Squadron, no sooner was he on the other side of the Atlantic than Eaton shacked up with Peggy. Husband #1 developed pneumonia bought on by pulmonary disease, which would’ve been quite a convoluted way to commit suicide, even in the 1830’s, however rumour spread, and more importantly Peggy was born to soon, as one historian put it ‘She did not know her place; she forthrightly spoke up about anything that came to her mind, even topics of which women were supposed to be ignorant. She thrust herself into the world in a manner inappropriate for a woman’ the cabinet members of Jacksons government duly refused to accept this worldly woman and resigned to a man in protest. Dicks.
The upshot of the whole affair, after an almost duel, helped kick start the emergence of feminism, and later the woman’s rights movement, (followed by numerous plays, films and musicals) which is a hell of a lot better than a bad reputation tarnished by a dance instructor and a dubious punch recipe.
This drink got me smashed, although I was a way to heavy handed on the rye, and used bitter truth violet, vanilla and Cointreau in place of the Parfait d’Amour although to be fair I could hardly taste this as ‘One Dash’ and even 10ml it was lost behind the mint, lime and rye. The mint on top did work well with the rye, and if anything, it was a little like a watery julep vs anything else, with the aroma of the mint really impacting the flavour of the drink. I’m not sure if I’d go back to this drink for another try, it has however taught me just how much a forest of mint under your nose will impact the flavour of a drink and makes me less dubious of those julep recipes where the forest is the only recipe mint.