The History Of The Planter’s Punch.
The truth is, no one alive knows the origins of this cocktail, and every best guess of its origin is just the best guess. The issue I have struggled with (and I’m sure many other drink writers have, too) is hoping to find that one true origin story. There are two common origins to the Planter’s Punch that get tossed around:
- Mid 1800s Jamaica.
- The Old Planter’s Hotel in Charleston, SC.
Had I been asked ten years ago, I would have pushed the hotel idea; then, I pivoted to the Jamaica one. Now I kinda say to hell with it; there seems to be a planter’s punch for every island in the Caribbean, with neither more “authentic” than the other. But the different significant versions are worth exploring. After much reading, I have concluded that every place that had a plantation probably had a version of the planter’s punch.
Fun Magazine’s Sept 1878 Planter’s Punch Recipe.
This is the oldest currently known reference to the Planter’s punch. It was printed on page 102 of the September 1878 issue of Fun Magazine in the UK. Here is a link to that digitalized issue if you want to check it out. That first recipe is a pretty straightforward punch (I’ve updated the measurements to modern units from the older antiquated ones like wineglass or pony etc.):
- 2 oz (60 mLs) Lemon Juice
- 1/2 cup (120 g) Sugar
- 6 oz (180 mLs) Gold Rum
- 1 cup (240 mLs) Cold Water
That’s the extent of the recipe in Fun. The Recipe had no context or story. Just a simple recipe told as a ditty. The song is.
A wine-glass with lemon juice fill,
Of sugar the same glass fill twice
Then rub them together until
The mixture looks smooth, soft, and nice.
Of rum then three wine glasses add,
And four of cold water please take. A
Drink then you’ll have that’s not bad—
At least, so they say in Jamaica
Why Are There So Many Planter’s Punch Recipes?
I include all these because they are all delicious, and one is not more authentic than the others. The oldest known recipe may be the Fun magazine recipe, but there is no certainty that it is even the original. There are more versions of this cocktail than I have included here, and they are all different and good. So don’t let anyone tell you your recipe is wrong because there is no right way to make the drink.
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