Getting ready to head out to Mexico on Spring Break with the family and was thinking this would be a good time to let folks know about the drink I think I love the most. Now, mentioning Mexico is not a good segue into this recipe, because it ain't the Margarita, and it ain't the Michelada, nor is it the Sangrita, even though they all rank high on my list and stand to be on the rotation this week. The drink is Rum Punch.
I am not a sweet drink guy and I hate mixes. Fruity drinks are just not my thing. But this Rum Punch is something different. It hails from the lofty cliffs of Negril, Jamaica, specifically Rock House in Negril. Back in 2009, the wife and I were able to take the last vacation we have taken just the two of us and it was spectacular. The kids were home and well taken care of by friends and family. We were well take care of by the amazing staff at Rock House... One particular day I was finishing up a swim and swam up to their Push Cart restaurant for some jerk pork and jerk chicken and decided I would give the Rum Punch a try. It was so good, hand crafted and not really a "sweet" drink. It had a bit of sour, a bit of sweet, a bit of metallic taste like you get from canned juices which was surprisingly delightful and yet tasted fresh, and it had a whole lot of rum. I won't tell you how many I had that day but ever since it's a drink that has changed my outlook on punches and other "sweet" cocktails. I don't care what drink it is, when its done right, its bound to delight. And this one did. This drink says relax, forget, remove and most of all it says "welcome". I often use it when guests visit us in the Poconos. I actually started calling Pocono Punch but always with a reference to its origin and its maker. That particular day at Rock House, I rolled up to the bar to confront the man behind the punch, a very young bartender named Romaine. Yes, Romaine like the lettuce. I told him how great the punch was and asked him if it was hard to make. He looked at me, then over each shoulder and said "nope, do you wanna know how?" and of course I said "yes". He handed me a piece of roll paper from the receipt printer and a pen and I started writing...
Now the next day I woke up and started reaching in my pockets making sure I still had the recipe on me... and there it was. I immediately folded it and put it in the inside pocket of my wallet where it has remained ever since. It does not have measurements because I committed those to memory when he told me for the sake of speed and it was pretty easy because its basically 1 cup over every thing except only 1/2 cup of lime juice and you should only do a few dashes of bitters and a slight splash of grenadine. Here is the recipe:
1 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup of pineapple juice
1 cup of canned orange juice (2 cups of Dole Pineapple-Orange in the small cans works perfect in lieu of the cup of canned OJ and the cup of pineapple. You'll be hard pressed to find canned OJ in the US. Florida's Natural no pulp works fine)
1/2 cup of fresh lime juice (if limes are very bitter use less)
1 cup of spiced rum ( Coruba Spiced or Capt Morgans)
1 cup "Overproof" rum (this is like 151 but a little less potent. 151 works too but I suggest removing this rum category entirely after the first batch or all together and doing 1.33 cups of the other three instead. People can get hurt. Sorry Matt C!)
1 cup of white/silver rum
1 cup of Special/Gold rum
A few shakes of bitters and a slight splash of grenadine
Use Appleton, Wray & Nephew Overproof and Coruba Spiced when you can but the Barcadi's and Capt Morgans work great too. To do the fresh juice right buy some navel oranges and some limes and get yourself an old fashion juice squeezer. After squeezing 1 cup of OJ and 1/2 cup of lime juice, filter the pulp out if you can with a strainer. Combine these with the other juices in a pitcher. The canned juice is just something that is available and affordable in Jamaica and I really think it adds to their overall character of this drink. It totally works and makes it feel/taste real, native and indigenous. Add the rum, then the bitters and grenadine. Be sure not to add too much grenadine, just a slight splash. Too much will kill the drink with sweetness. You want to taste the other components. Its strong but the alcohol is well balanced against the juice and bitters.
Stir the pitcher well and pour into a glass full of ice. Garnish with a slice of orange, lime or pineapple on the rim and say good night "Mon"!
Special thanks to Romaine! I hope to encounter him again some day!
Cheers & Happy Spring!