History of the Planters Punch

Is there any other drink in the history of classic cocktails that is more likely to be a party-pleaser than the rum punch? Fruity and alcoholic, it can be thrown in a pitcher for everyone to help themselves! The Planters Punch is traditionally made for a single serving but the recipe can be easily adapted to serve more.

Who Created the Planters Punch?

There are a few stories behind the creation of this delicious drink. The most romantic links the drink to the Charleston area of South Carolina. The city was named after Charles I, who dedicated the space to plantation workers and their families. It is thought that the drink was created by a Jamaican planter's wife, who wanted to make a drink that would quench the thirsty workers.

When you look at the history of this era and the wealth and joy that seems to accompany it, this is a lovely story. However, some attribute the drink to the Planters Hotel in St Louis, where it is thought to have been born in the 19th century. Others believe that the cocktail actually hails from Jamaica, with a London magazine from 1878 publishing the recipe with the sub-title, "A West Indian recipe".

Regardless of its origin, the Planters Punch remained popular throughout prohibition and became even more in demand afterwards, when high-quality rum was freely available. In fact, it was so fashionable that a unique rum was made specifically for the cocktail. It was called Myers Planters Punch Rum. Despite this, you can use any dark rum that takes your fancy.

Variations of the Planters Punch

The traditional recipe calls for rum, lime, bitters and sugar syrup, but every mixologist follows a slightly different recipe. Different tastebuds require more or less rum and varying amounts of lime juice. So you can always adapt the current recipe to suit.

As it is a punch, the lime juice can be replaced with any fruit juice of your choice. Pineapple, orange or passion fruit all work really well. You can also add club soda for a slightly lighter variation of the drink and replace the bitters with grenadine for a more impressive colourful effect. All these versions of the drink come under the Planters Punch umbrella, so it is almost impossible to get it wrong!

Garnishing the punch also allows you to get creative. There is no traditional garnish but any fruits you want to use will add a great colourful touch.

More to explore

Bartender's top tip

Photograph your creation. Cocktails are visual works of art, take a staged picture to remember your curated creation before its taste is enjoyed.

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