Try a new and improved Planter’s Punch cocktail

Brian Rung

Order “Planter's Punch” at ten different bars, and you're likely to get 10 drastically different drinks. Planter's Punch is more of a category of drinks than a cocktail with endless regional variations.
The Caribbean punch has been a mainstay of mixology for well over a century, and the drink's storied history began in nineteenth century Barbados with an easy to remember rhyming recipe: One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.
The version of the ever-evolving Rum Punch featured this week foregoes the water for iced tea, an interesting twist that adds depth and reduces dilution.
The version of Planter's Punch that is currently served in most tropical and resort bars shares little to nothing with the original version of the iconic rum punch. Nearly every aspiring tiki mixologist will put his or her own spin on the drink, and none of them are “wrong”.
The original Barbados Planter's Punch is delicious, and easy to make in large quantities due to the fact that the recipe is in whole numbered portions.
The “sour” is lime juice, while the “sweet” was likely pressed sugar cane juice that was eventually replaced by simple syrup. The “strong” was rum, likely a darker aged rum and the “weak” was simply water.
There is actually a second part to the Barbadian rhyme, and it calls for the use of Angostrura Aromatic bitters, freshly grated nutmeg, and ice: A dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice, serve well chilled with plenty of ice. I wish all punch recipes were so easy to remember.
The “spice” component is nutmeg, I prefer to add the grated nutmeg to the individual drinks as you would when making a Painkiller.
There you have it, the original Planter's Punch for 5 or 500. When adding bitters to large batch of Planter's Punch, use 2-3 dashes per drink.
If you are fan of rum, try the original Planter's Punch before you try one of the variations. The version that I encounter most frequently is the version that uses orange juice, grenadine, and club soda. Pineapple juice is also common among the many modern recipes for Planter's Punch.
In the late 1950s Colonel A.R. Woolley was serving as the managing director of the Lemon Hart Rum Co when he was interviewed by the New York Times about Planter's Punch. The inquiring minds of the Times readers wanted to know what was in “the punch” at the Polynesian-themed bars of the era.
Woolley informed The Times that an “infinitely superior” Planter's Punch could be made when tea is substituted for water. Other versions of the legendary punch have used splashes of tea in addition to water, but Woolley's version calls for replacing the water altogether.
The recipe below is the “improved” version of the drink from the 1950s using chilled black tea.
Other than the use of black tea, there is one additional old world twist in this version of Planter's Punch. This version uses pure white sugar instead of simple syrup.
Typically simple syrup is best for cocktails because it provides sweetness in an even consistency, perfect for mixing. Using pure sugar in cocktails is preferred by many purists, and will turn out a fantastic drink so long as the sugar is fully dissolved.
When making this version of the Planter's Punch, add the sugar and lime juice first making sure that the sugar is fully dissolved before adding the other ingredients.
A dark Jamaican rum is ideal for Planter's Punch, and when a recipe calls for dark Jamaican rum I typically go one of two ways: Myer's or Appleton Estate 12.
Both are ideal for any rum drink that calls for a dark Jamaican rum, the Appleton is also quite the sipper on its own. Coruba is also a dynamite Jamaican rum for mixing if you can find it.
Give this one a shot if you are interested in exploring classic rum drinks. If the platform suits your palate there are literally hundreds of variations listed online to sample. Also, file this one away once you find proportions that work for you as it is wise to have at least one rum punch in your repertoire.
The “New and Improved” Planter's Punch is built and served in a Collins (tall) glass.
Combine in glass:
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. white sugar
Stir sugar and lime juice until sugar is dissolved then add:
2 oz. dark Jamaican rum
1 1/2 oz. brewed black tea
Fill glass with crushed ice
Stir ingredients, add more ice to fill glass if needed
Garnish with lime wedge and mint sprig
Until next week, enjoy responsibly.