As the name suggests, the Cape Fear Punch owes its christening to the rather ill-famed Southern US men’s club. The club was founded on 3 March 1866 in Wilmington and incorporated on 8 February 1872. It is generally recognized as the oldest social club of its kind in continuous existence in North Carolina and one of the oldest in Southeast US. According to its North Carolina highway historical marker (at Second and Chestnut streets, Wilmington), the Cape Fear Club is the “oldest gentleman’s club in the South in continuous existence.” The original club was largely made up of Confederate veterans, but includes a plethora of members now.

The secret recipe of the Cape Fear punch comes from the gentleman’s club. Containing rye whiskey, Cognac and Jamaican rum, it packs quite a punch, but those who may be adverse to brown liquor will be in for a treat. Cut with green tea, seltzer, lemons and oranges, this punch lacks a boozy taste, and has just the right balance of sweet and sour.


  • Rye whiskey – 750 ml
  • Water – 750 ml
  • Raw sugar – ½ cup
  • Green tea – 3 bags
  • Rum (preferably Jamaican) – 375 ml
  • Cognac – 375 ml
  • Lemons – 4
  • For the punch: Oranges, thinly sliced – 2 small
  • Lemons, thinly sliced – 4 small
  • Sparkling wine or Champagne - 2 (750 ml) bottles
  • Seltzer or sparkling water - 1 litre
  • Ice block (not cubes)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

The Process

For the base:

Boil the water.

Add sugar and stir till warm (190ºF).

Place the tea bags in the water and steep for 3 minutes.

Add the tea, rum, Cognac, and whiskey into a container.

Zest the lemons, add the skins and stir.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Reserve zested lemons in the refrigerator.

For the punch:

Strain the base into a large punch bowl.

Juice the reserved lemon and add.

When ready to serve, stir in the oranges, lemons, sparkling wine, and seltzer.

Add the ice block and serve with freshly grated nutmeg.

For a spookier version, freeze water in a rubber glove and then remove the glove to create a ghoulish floating ice hand!