Planter's Punch

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It's Time for a Rhyme

I'm so excited to introduce you to a very historic tiki cocktail that happens to be one of my favorites. It's strong, citrusy, intriguing, and fun; meet the Planter's Punch!

We got the Smuggler's Cove tiki cocktail book this past winter and have really enjoyed learning about (and of course trying!) some classic tiki cocktails. While some of the drinks in the book were already favorites in our house, others were new to us. The Planter's Punch was sort of in the middle; it's one I've always heard about and had a few times, but I really didn't know much about its history or ingredients.

According to Smuggler's Cove, the Planter's Punch is traditionally made according to a rhyme: "One part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong, and four parts weak". This of course can be interpreted in many different ways, and so there are all sorts of Planter's Punch variations out there. I love the idea that different bars (and home bars!) can have their own "house recipe" for the Planter's Punch.

You'll see a lot of different versions of this drink scattered throughout this post. Clearly it's one I make a lot! I hope they'll provide some inspiration for developing your own house punch recipe, plus give you some ideas for garnishing and serving.

My Interpretation

My version of this drink really focuses on building complex flavors. For the "one part sour", I use lime juice. For the "two parts sweet", I love a combination of grapefruit juice and macadamia liqueur; the former adds bitterness while the latter adds the most wonderful, luscious richness. For the "three parts strong", I like to use a combination of spiced rum and dark rum, with the former having more warming spices and the latter having more vanilla. And for the "four parts weak", I go with the classic approach of crushed ice.

Here's the rundown in terms of amounts:

  • "One part sour...": 1 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • "...two parts sweet...": 1.5 oz fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice PLUS 0.5 oz macadamia nut liqueur (= 2 oz total)
  • "... three parts strong...": 2 oz spiced rum PLUS 1 oz dark rum (= 3 oz total)
  • "... and four parts weak": abundant crushed ice (nominally 4 oz, but it will depend on the size of your glass)

The end result is an intriguing and complex combination of tart, sweet, bitter, rich, and spiced flavors. I think this combination really exemplifies the magic of punch. Anyone who thinks tiki cocktails are just sweet has been going to the wrong bars!

Variations

There are lots of ways to change this one up, including how you serve it. While I love to use a tiki mug, pretty much anything will work (including my grandma's Waterford crystal bowl as shown above... oops). You can garnish it traditionally, with a lime wedge and some fresh mint, or completely absurdly with whatever tropical fruit you love.

Flavor-wise, one of my favorite ways to change this drink up is to add a dash of Campari; it really brings in another dimension. The two photos in this post showing the more pink drink in the tiki mug have the Campari addition. I've also been known to add a splash of pineapple juice and/or a couple dashes of bitters (Angostura would be the most traditional). This is definitely a fun drink to experiment with and develop your own signature version!

One final choice: to float or not to float? Most of the photos here show a dark rum float, because clearly a float makes any tiki drink better. While it's not traditional in a Planter's Punch, adding a final splash of dark rum (which sits on top thanks to its low density) seems to me like the perfect finish for this drink. If you do want to add a float though, decrease the amount of dark rum that you mix into the cocktail itself, since this is quite a potent drink.

Let's Talk Ingredients

Here's what you'll need for this cocktail, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

  • Lime juice. Fresh-squeezed is a must!
  • Grapefruit juice. Fresh-squeezed is definitely better, but store-bought can be a convenient shortcut if you're making these for a crowd.
  • Macadamia nut liqueur. I'm absolutely smitten with Trader Vic's Macadamia Liqueur; any tiki-loving household needs a bottle. If you can't find it though, using all grapefruit juice for the "sweet" part is fine, although less luscious.
  • Spiced rum. I'm of course partial to Koloa Rum from Kaua'i, and their spiced rum is pure magic. If you can't find it, look for an amber-colored spiced rum so that the cocktail keeps its bright color.
  • Dark rum. Again, Koloa Rum is my go-to. The combination of spiced and dark is wonderful here, but if you're only going to get one rum, I'd use all spiced rather than all dark.
  • Crushed ice. Classic for a Planter's Punch and many other tiki cocktails!
  • Dark rum float. Optional but fun! If you want to go this route, you might want to decrease the dark rum that you'll mix into the cocktail. This is a strong drink even without the float.
  • Garnishes of choice. Grapefruit slices, lime slices, over-the-top tropical fruit, fresh mint, little umbrellas, etc, are all good options. Tiki cocktails are meant to be fun, so I think over-the-top garnishes are perfectly appropriate.

Closing Thoughts

This cocktail is absolutely a winner for a summer deck party. You can multiply the recipe as needed for a pitcher version, which would make it easy for a crowd; just add the ice and garnishes (and the float, if you want!) to individual glasses as you serve. It would be a blast in a punch bowl, perhaps with some really pretty grapefruit slices frozen into ice cubes. We've also been known to make this drink in the dead of winter when it's cold, dark, and awful out; it brings such a bright spot of tropical warmth.

So what are you waiting for? Whether you're a tiki punch lover or a tiki punch newbie, the complex flavors in this one are so interesting and fun to experiment with. This is a go-to for us and I hope it will be for you too!

Share It!

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

Suggested Pairings

Kaua'i Hummus

Fruit Salsa Guide

Tropical Guacamole

Tropical Sweet Potatoes with Macadamia Dukkah

Tropical Pad Thai Salad

Disclosure: Koloa Rum is a long-term partner and I receive free product. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.

Planter's Punch

A classic and very historic tiki cocktail, the Planter's Punch has the perfect balance of sour and sweet ingredients. My version incorporates a few additional flavors for a very special, surprisingly complex drink.

Author:
Lee

Ingredients

  • 1 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1.5 oz fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 0.5 oz macadamia nut liqueur
  • 2 oz amber-colored spiced rum
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • Optional dark rum float
  • Garnishes of choice

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine all of the ingredients and shake well with ice.
  2. Pour using a strainer into a large serving glass filled with crushed ice.
  3. Add a dark rum float if desired.
  4. Garnish however you like. When it comes to the Planter's Punch, more is more!

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Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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