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  • Writer's pictureBamboo Sam

Planter's Punch 101

Updated: Mar 31, 2021

You could argue that every Tiki drink is simply a variation of this simple rhyme

As Beachbum Berry recounts in his book Intoxica, "While growing up in Louisiana during Prohibition, Donn Beach spent several winters as a crew member on his grandfather's yacht, The Port of New Orleans, that made rum-running trips to Jamaica. There, at the Patio Bar at the Myrtle Bank Hotel in Kingston, Donn met and fell in love with his soul mate... the Planter's Punch."

The name is derived from the fact that the punch was enjoyed by the plantation owners who as sugarcane growers in the tropics had all of the ingredients needed to improve upon their current condition. By the time Donn discovered it, the recipe had been a codified rhyme for more than 200 years. One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak. Donn's was most likely 1 part lime juice, two parts rock candy, three parts Jamaican rum, and four parts water/ice. The deeper you get in to Tiki drinks, the more you start to see that this formula is the basis for most of the drinks.

“One of sour, Two of sweet, Three of strong, Four of weak”

Staying true to this formula makes a great Planter's Punch and still leaves a lot of room for variation. That "One of sour" can be the juice of a lime, lemon, grapefruit, or cranberry. The "sweet" could be pineapple juice, simple syrup, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, or more. That's a lot of variation and we haven't even gotten to the rum yet! Don Beach took it further by not only modifying each of the four main ingredients but by creating mixes that constituted one of the four ingredients. He made fruit juice mixes for the sour, infused sugar syrups for the sweet and then blended multiple rums for the strong. But Donn's pièce de résistance was the use of crushed ice and an electric mixer to flash blend his rum rhapsodies. The world would never be the same...

...but it all started with the Planter's Punch.

I covered this topic at a Tiki Tuesday event for the Commercial UAV Expo in 2020 where I made Donn's 1937 version of his Planter's Punch. The recipe and couple of other variations are below the video.

Donn's 1937 Planter's Punch

Donn's Planter's Punch (1937)

This Planter's Punch is a classic as served in Donn the Beachcomber's Hollywood restaurant

  • 1/2 ounce fresh Lime Juice

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • 1/2 tsp grenadine

  • 1/2 tsp falernum

  • 1/2 ounce dark Jamaican Rum

  • 1/2 ounce gold Jamaican rum

  • 1 ounce gold Puerto Rican rum

  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine everything in a mixing tin, add crushed ice and blend for 5 seconds in a spindle mixer. Gated pour into a Tiki mug and garnish with mint leaves, orange wedge and a cherry.

Planter's Punch
SC's Planter's Punch

Planter's Punch (Smuggler's Cove)

Source - Martin Cate, Smuggler's Cove

The other way you hear the rhyme is 1 of sour, 2 of sweet, 3 of strong, 4 of weak, and a little spice. The inclusion of allspice dram in this punch makes it a great choice when you're looking for something that's "not too sweet".

  • 1 ounce fresh Lime Juice

  • 3/4 ounce Demerara Syrup

  • 1/4 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

  • 3 ounces blended aged Jamaican Rum

  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine everything in a mixer tin with 12 ounces of crushed ice.

Flash blend and pour with a gated finish into a Collins or Highball glass.

Garnish is typically a mint sprig.

Ronrico Planter's Punch No.3
Ronrico Planter's Punch No.3

Ronrico Planter's Punch No. 3

This Planter's Punch is a favorite of mine as most of the flavor is from the fresh pineapple instead of syrups. I typically use Cruzan Gold or Bacardi 8 for the Puerto Rican Islands rum and Lemon Hart 151 for the float.

  • 1 ounce fresh Lime Juice

  • 2 sticks of fresh pineapple

  • 3 tsp simple syrup

  • 2 ounces gold Puerto Rican rum

  • 1/2 ounce 151 proof rum

  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine everything except the 151 proof rum in a mixer tin with 4 ounces of crushed ice.

Blend until the pineapple is liquefied and pour into a Collins or Highball glass filled with ice.

Garnish with pineapple slice, orange wheel and cocktail cherry.

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