I haven’t covered a lot of punches here at Primer (Fish House Punch being a notable exception), in part because I tend to focus on single-drink recipes, and punches are really at their best when you’re making a big bowlful and sharing it with friends. Still, too long have I ignored one of the most famous and delicious punches out there, Planter’s Punch, a concoction of rum and fruit juices that traces its name back to the 1800s, and its potential origin much earlier.
Likely named for the Planter’s Hotel, a Nineteenth Century resting place for wealthy plantation owners to stay while attending the nearby horse races, the drink’s origins are generally believed to be Jamaican. Considering its ingredients, Jamaican rum mixed with a variety of fresh tropical juices, that doesn’t seem too far-fetched. What today we call Planter’s Punch probably began life in the Caribbean, evolving from a variety of drinks made from rum and local fruit juices.
There’s an International Bartenders Association standard recipe for Planter’s Punch, but it’s an extremely malleable drink that can be customized to your liking. The key is to use two or more fresh tropical fruit juices (pineapple and orange are the most common, but passion fruit is not unheard of either), along with some lime juice for tartness, and to float either bitters, a shot of dark rum, or both on top of the drink. The IBA recipe uses grenadine, but I don’t think it’s necessary here, and I’ve omitted it from my personal recipe below.
This is an easy punch to assemble in an individual serving. You can of course make the punch in a large batch. The recipe scales nicely all the way up to party sizes. If you’re doing that, I recommend muddling some fresh fruit in there, and giving the whole thing a few hours (at least) to macerate, so that the flavors meld together before serving.
Liquors in parentheses are what I used when I made this recipe, and are included as suggestions.
The Planters Punch Cocktail Recipe
- Cocktail shaker
- Cocktail Strainer
- Chilled hurricane glass
- 1.5 oz. Aged Jamaican Rum Appleton Estate V/X
- 1 oz. Fresh tropical juice Orange
- 1 oz. Another fresh tropical juice Pineapple
- .5 oz. Fresh lime juice
- .25 oz. Simple syrup
- 2 dashes Aromatic bitters Angostura
- .5 oz. Dark rum Gosling’s
- Lime wedge or seasonal fruit Garnish
- Combine all ingredients except bitters or dark rum in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake thoroughly.
- Strain into a chilled, ice-filled hurricane glass. Float the bitters or dark rum on the top of the drink.
- Garnish with a lime wedge and other seasonal fruit.