Are you looking for a fun drink, one that's a little tropical, not too hard to make, and sure to be a crowd-pleasing hit? I have just the thing: Planter's Punch!
Made with rum, lime juice, sugar, and a secret ingredient or two, you can combine the ingredients ahead of time. It's the perfect party drink!
What Is Planter's Punch?
First, a little history.
In 1878, the Victorian Magazine Fun published this recipe for a Planter’s Punch. Despite the magazine’s faint praise for the concoction, this is not a bad drink (quite the contrary!), although there have been many variations of it over the years. Most involve dark rum and a plethora of fruit juices—lime, pineapple, orange, sometimes passionfruit.
Every recipe is a little different. (As Wayne Curtis wrote in his book And a Bottle of Rum, "Planter’s Punch is a class of drink rather than a single cocktail.")
A Modern Take on Planter's Punch
I tried a lot of these variations, and my favorite was one I discovered almost by accident in Ted Haigh’s excellent Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. The recipe— made with Jamaican rum and a pre-made "secret mix"—is by Jasper LeFranc, the former head bartender of the Bay Roc Hotel in Montego Bay.
I originally spotted it in Ted Haigh’s book, but the proportions used here are (mostly) ones from the (now defunct site) 3st of the Month. With just one kind of fruit juice, this may seem a little less flashy than other recipes, but I love this version, because the Angostura bitters and particularly the nutmeg give it a richness and depth of flavor that you don’t get from just rum and fruit juice.
Make-Ahead "Secret Mix"
Although the "secret mix" might seem a little intimidating, it’s really quite simple to make. You can put it together ahead of time (up to two days in advance) and store it in the fridge. Then, when you’re ready to make drinks, all you need to do is add the rum. You can make drinks individually, or put together a whole pitcher at once.
The Rum to Use in Planter's Punch
The starting point for Planter's Punch is a dark rum, preferably Jamaican. Haigh asks for Coruba, although I’ve also had luck with Appleton Estate.
Want More Rum Recipes? Here You Go!
Planter's Punch Cocktail
If fresh-ground nutmeg is not an option, you can substitute 3/4 teaspoon of the already-ground version. But if time allows, go for the fresh ground. As someone who had never bothered to grate fresh nutmeg before, it was a revelation.
I think 1:1 is a good ratio of secret mix to rum, although if you like a stronger drink, you can adjust it to be as much as 1 part secret mix to 2 parts rum; 1 1/2 parts rum would probably be nice, too.
- For the secret mix
- Yield: 12 ounces, enough for eight drinks or one pitcher
- 8 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I like turbinado, or demerara)
- 1/2 ounce Angostura bitters
- Heaping 1/2 teaspoon of fresh-ground nutmeg (see Recipe Note)
- For the Planter's Punch
- Yield: 1 cocktail
- 1 1/2 ounce dark Jamaican rum
- 1 1/2 ounce "secret mix"
- Crushed ice
- Mint or cocktail cherry, for garnish
Make the secret mix:
Stir the secret mix ingredients together until the sugar dissolves. Allow to steep in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Make the punch:
Add rum, ice, and secret mix to a shaker. Shake for about 20 seconds, and then pour everything into an old fashioned glass, or a comparable 6- to 8-ounce glass.
Garnish with mint, or a cocktail cherry, or anything else that strikes your fancy.
To make a whole pitcher: Make the secret mix, then add all of it and an equal volume of rum (about a cup and a half, or 12 ounces) to a pitcher. Add 10-12 ice cubes and stir vigorously. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to drink, then serve over crushed ice.