Cocktail classes: PLANTER’S PUNCH

A punch is a fruit juice based drink which may or may not contain alcohol. It came into the English lexicon from India being based on the Sanskrit word ‘panch’ meaning five. It was originally made in India by the sailors and employees of the East India Company with five ingredients: alcohol, fruit juice or water, sugar, lemon and spices. It was brought to England by them and thereafter became popular across the world. It is normally served in a large tureen called the punch bowl and is the favoured drink at picnics, games of cricket and parties where there is only one communal drink being served.

Non alcoholic punch served to children and teetotalers are a combination of juices of fruits like pineapple, orange and lemon, sweetened with sugar and diluted with water. Originally the alcoholic punch was made with brandy or wine as the base spirit. Subsequently they were replaced by Jamaican rum.

The Planter’s Punch conjures up the image of a white linen suit, a Panama hat, a silver-headed cane, the plantations and the blue Caribbean Sea! It is one of the most popular punches and is an official cocktail of the International Bartender’s Association. The first print reference to it is found in the August 8, 1908 issue of the New York Times. Although there are many versions of the Planter’s Punch, the classic recipe is as follows:

Here is how we present it in our cocktail classes in London.

  • 1 ½ ounces dark rum
  • ¼ ounce grenadine (can be replaced with ½ ounce lime juice and ¼ ounce sugar syrup)
  • 2 ounces fruit juice (pineapple, orange or passion fruit or a mixture)
  • Club soda or water
  • Seasonal fruit as garnish
    All the ingredients except the soda and garnish are shaken together with plenty of ice, strained into a high ball glass filled with ice, topped with soda, garnished and served.
    The Planter’s Punch has evolved over the decades. A rum blogger enlisted some very interesting versions of the Planter’s Punch and the difference lies in the kinds of rum used and their combinations.
  • Stephen Remberg’s Planter’s Punch: Stephen Remberg, an American connoisseur and collector of rum, has experimented with the Planter’s Punch for 20 years and finally settled on a version that contains 3 oz dark Coruba rum, 1 oz sugar syrup, 3 dashes of Angustura bitters and ¾ oz of lime juice. Served on crushed ice with a sprig of mint, this is a very balanced and tasty cocktail.
  • Jerry Berry’s Grog Log Planter’s Punch has a mixture of dark Jamaican and light Puerto Rican rum, with grenadine, orange juice and lime juice. The interesting fact here is that the dark rum instead of being mixed with the rest of the ingredients is gently floated of top.
  • Tiki bar Don the Beachcomber’s Planter’s Punch has an added ingredient to the traditional rum, lemon juice and bitters combination and that is honey which adds a delightful flavour to the cocktail.
  • Mississippi Planter’s Punch from New Orleans adds Bourbon whisky and cognac to a typical rum punch.
  • Creole Planter’s Punch has two dashes of ‘Bitter Truth of Creole Bitters’ with lime juice, sugarcane syrup, dark Coruba Jamaican rum and Smith & Cross strong dark Jamaican rum. It has a spicy kick to it.

No matter what the combination, the Planter’s Punch is a universal favourite.

If you are interested in mastering the art of creating this drink enroll into our cocktail class in London.

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