Rum punches are far from something new – just ask Martha Washington. Ever since Colonial days, rum has been one of the most popular distilled spirits in the U.S. Punch has been an entertainment staple for equally as long. A rum punch, then, is a winner all the way around.

The origins of Planter’s Punch isn’t known, but it’s been around for quite a while. Some stories claim that it was concocted on a Jamaican plantation, or maybe a plantation in Barbados, or maybe…well, any Caribbean island works. Others give credit to the much less tropical Planter’s Hotel in St. Louis (although considering the heat and humidity of a Midwestern summer, St. Louis might not be less tropical after all).

Either way, the first mention in print of Planter’s Punch was in 1908 in the New York Times:

Planter’s Punch

This recipe I give to thee,

Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong –
I know whereof I speak.

The rhyme is very similar to what is said to be a traditional rhyme heard in Barbados: “One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak.” Which would be the measurements of another rum punch, Bajan Rum Punch.

But since few of us translate poetry into cocktails these days, it may be a little easier to follow a more traditional recipe. The bitters are optional, but highly recommended. This recipe is a bit sweeter than the version in the original rhyme, and the bitters will add a nice zip.

Recipe: Planter’s Punch Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. lime juice (substitute sour mix if necessary)
  • 3 oz. dark rum
  • 4 oz. club soda
  • splash of grenadine
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine the juices, rum, and bitters in a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass.
  3. Top off with club soda and add a dash of grenadine.
  4. Serve garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.