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When the U.S. Military Created ‘The Strongest Drink in America’

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In the late 1700s to 1800s, Georgia’s first colonial artillery militia created the Chatham Artillery Punch, an enduringly potent cocktail that would go on to become a defining characteristic of its home city, Savannah, Georgia.

“The city itself and that drink are synonymous,” says Paul Rabe, head bartender at the American Prohibition Museum in Savannah. “It is an icon of the city, and to not consider the military would discount not only the foundation of that drink but the tone of the city.”

Military socials were common and often widely attended events in America during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Revolutionary (1775–1783) and Civil wars (1861–1865) heavily impacted most communities across the country, and regiments created alcoholic punches to make send-offs and veteran gatherings festive.