Jamaican Rum Punch – History and Recipe

Jamaican Rum Punch – History and Recipe

Oh Gosh how much do I miss the sweet West Indies. The current circumstances have made it hard to travel for more than a year now so I have been suffering from some withdrawal. A huge pain in the ass as there were no parties either which would have allowed me to experience at least some kind of Caribbean culture. So all I can do is reminiscing I guess. Well that’s not quite true, there is actually more I (and also you!) can do. For example Jamaican Rum Punch!

As I am generally a very optimistic person who always tries to make the best out of situations I was thinking about what I can do to bring at least some Caribbean flavour to my home. And the answer was simple: Let’s make some Jamaican Rum Punch! Jamaican rum is something you can even get in Austria (without having to order it) and the other ingredients are not hard to get either. Furthermore, it is super easy to make. I will show you how in this blog entry and tell you my favourite recipe, which lets me reminisce of the Caribbean every time I smell or taste it. But before we get to the instructions let me tell you about the history of Rum Punch.

History of Rum Punch

Punch is a very old beverage which has even existed before cocktails were invented. The origins of the word Punch are not quite clear: many say its roots lay in the Indian dialect of Hindustani and translates to five. Five referring to the five elements which are frequently used to make punch: sweet, sour, water, spice and alcohohl. Others say the word punch is derived from the word puncheon, which was used to describe a special kind of barrel used for the transport of alcohol.

Although it is not totally clear who really invented the drink, it is said that British sailors who worked for the British East India Company were the first to create it in the 17th century. They were drinking a lot on their long long voyages from England to South East Asia and eventually the beer and wine they brought with them spoiled or they ran out of it.

So they had to find a replacement and created Punch out of Indian arrack and other ingredients which were easily available in India, like lemon juice. The sailors brought the drink from India to England, where it got very popular during the mid 1600s. In 1655, the modern Rum Punch was born, when Jamaican rum was used instead of arrack from the East Indies.

Nowadays Rum Punch is a popular Caribbean island cocktail, typically consisting of rum and fruits or fruit juices. There are many different variants of Caribbean Rum Punch as every island adds its own flavours. I am introducing Jamaican Rum Punch in this article as this the place where I got to know the tasty cocktail (and also because Jamaican rum is easy to get where I live).

Jamaican Rum Punch recipe

Actually there isn’t only one certain way to make Jamaican Rum Punch. Even though the main ingredients are always the same, you will find slightly different versions when you google it. I tried different ways to do Rum Punch until I found the perfect recipe (inspired by Lemons for Lulu)

For about 5 glasses of rum punch you need:

  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 cup of pineapple juice (I always prefer to use self made juice containing fruits only)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup white rum, for example Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum
  • 1/4 cup dark rum, for example Appleton Estate Signature Blend
  • 1/2 cup of grenadine (or less if you prefer it les sweet)

For one big glass (35,5 cl) you need:

  • 100 ml orange juice
  • 100 ml pineapple juice
  • 2,5 cl dark rum
  • 2,5 cl white rum
  • 30 ml of grenadine

All you need to do is combine all the ingredients (for example in a pitcher) and stir. Then pour the drink into glasses filled with ice and garnish them with fruits. Rum Punch is a great party drink because you can prepare it easily in lager quantities.

Create your own version

As I mentioned already every Carribean island adds its own flavours to their version of Rum Punch. Let me give you some examples:

In Trinidad and Tobago Rum Punch typically consists of lime juice, raw sugar, nutmeg, Angostura Bitters, dark rum from Trinidad (for example Angostura) and water.

In Barbados the ingredients frequently used are lime juice, simple syrup, dark rum from Barbados (for example Mount Gay), Angostura bitters and nutmeg.

As you can see it’s all pretty similar. What you can do too is use your creativity and create your own version of Rum Punch. There are so many different things you can try. For example use Coconut rum or try a different fruit juice like Mango or Watermelon. Whatever fits your taste best. To remember the proportions of the ingredients there is a simple rhyme: One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak.

Reminiscing of Jamaica with Rum Punch, music and friends

I love to make Rum Punch occasionally as it’s so easy to make and it reminds me of Jamaica a lot (especially the scent of Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum takes me back immediately). Even though it is not a drink Jamaicans drink frequently it is something you can get at many places. If you like rum and fruits it’s very likely that you will like this beverage as well.

My recommendation for a Jamaican night at home: Invite two friends, hang some pineapple garlands and light chains for a nice atmosphere, turn on some Dancehall music and make some tasty Rum Punch to create the right mood for a night full of dancing and fun. Of course it is not the same as in the Caribbean, but for now it is a good replacement. And the best is yet to come because I will give you more advice on how to bring a little bit of Caribbean flavour to your home. Curious? Stay tuned for Reminiscing Part 2!