The GarBar

No cars, only bars!

Jamaican Rum Punch

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!



Here comes the Sun....The lounge is open!

Looking forward to sunny days at The Garbar lounge...  I think we are due for a beer tasting.  Hmmmm....

Some exciting news... The tap will soon be taken over by Other Half Brewing Co. out of Brooklyn.  The owner,  Matt Monahan, saw the blog and reached out in the comments offering to sponsor a night.   Their beer looks ridiculously good. They were ranked in the Top 10 "Best New Breweres in the World"...

Added this  winter.  Inspired by the Spring Lounge on Mullberry Street.   Needs some sanding and staining.   

Added this winter.  Inspired by the Spring Lounge on Mullberry Street.   Needs some sanding and staining.   

Welcome to The GarBar!

This is the first of hopefully many posts that will take you into the world of The GarBar and my weird and crazy passion for rethinking the most under utilized space we have in our homes... the garage.   

My garage circa September 2010

My garage circa September 2010

When my wife and I bought our first home we settled in a quaint New Jersey suburban town called Maplewood.  Maplewood is known for attracting New York apartment dwellers who have found themselves married or living with their partners, with young kids or kids on the way.  They are entering a new phase of their lives and realizing their dreams of raising their children in the big city are a bit more challenging than they had once thought or had just postponed that frame of thinking until it was unavoidable.  It hits you pretty hard and often out of the blue.  Call it suspended denial that runs its course.  And when reality hits it's pretty harsh, with the crazing housing costs in NYC and perhaps the most daunting realization...what it takes to find your children a good environment for their education.  "Interview me and get me to write an essay so my kid can go to kindergarten?  And pay what?  I don't think so."  Well I guess this is just one faction of us.  The one I belong to.  I certainly have friends who had no intentions of staying.  They always meant to make their way to suburbia once the clock ran out on bachelorhood and dinkhood. Whatever the reason, what I have found is that the cool people find Maplewood.  They come from Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Hoboken, Jersey City and most come from Brooklyn, especially in recent years.   You can read all about it in the recent New York Times article entitled, "Maplewood, NJ: If Brooklyn Were a Suburb"...  Since the move, we are all now very Jersey proud but we take this reference as a compliment for sure.  

But, I am not here to write about real estate and the dynamics of this great little town.  We're the cool kids that moved to Jersey, that's all you need to know... and despite some early fears about living in the burbs, we are more than making the best of it - we're loving it.   As I like to say, "We did not come out here to die."  We enjoy ourselves and we do it right here in the burbs.  I am here to tell you about one way we have made our living situation a little more reminiscent of our lives back in the city, when your "local" might have been literally 50 paces from your apt building.  When you could pop into your favorite bar and see the regular faces that made that big daunting city feel small, intimate and home like.  And then you could just walk home, one of the best parts of city living.  Well due to New Jersey's silly and very restrictive liquor laws which limit the number of liquor licenses by population, we have very few choices in our town for places to grab a pint (currently 2 in Maplewood) and they are not really walking distance for most, although it can be done.   So we've had to get creative.  

Now-a-days I walk to my local in less than 10 seconds.  I see all my neighborhood friends and share a few freshly poured pints of Brooklyn Brewery beer and throw a few games of darts.  But now-a-days my local is not the Spring Lounge on Spring and Mulberry, where I met my wife just three blocks from my apartment on Elizabeth Street.  Nope.  My local is in my garage.  It's not a business.  It's just my home where my friends gather for some FREE pints.   And going forward I will be posting about how this place came to be and how it continues to evolve into the space that I have dreamt up.  A place that, like a time machine, transports you.  It transports you out of a suburban backyard and into a local pub or tavern in the West Village, the Lower East Side or Williamsburg, you decide.  It's an evolution and we are just getting started.  But the passion is contagious and it will spread as we will begin this Spring with various projects at other residences where, with the help of some handy friends, we will reinvent a few friends' and neighbors' garages into GarBars (Garage + Bar).   I hope you enjoy reading these posts.  Eventually, as we begin The Garbar projects we will be filming the process of transforming garage spaces into the ultimate "locals" that will reflect the personalities of the home owners.  Please send me any thoughts or suggestions you have.  Stay tuned and Cheers!  - John     


My garage circa September 2014.

My garage circa September 2014.