Time goes by quickly and so it has been a while since I talked about uncommon aperitifs. Therefore, this week I want to continue the series with a classic drink from the French-speaking Caribbean islands like Martinique or Haiti. It's quite popular on the islands, but not as popular in the rest of the world. Basically the Old-Fashioned of the Caribbean and definitely worth a try, although not for everyone.
What Is A Ti Punch
The classic Ti Punch doesn't consist of many ingredients. Just rhum, lime and sugar. Sometimes ice. The interesting and unusual flavor is provided by using rhum agricole, which is a kind of rum made from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice instead of molasses.
The taste of rhum is hard to describe and if you are accustomed to aged rums it's unusual. Rather fresh and complex, even grassy. To describe it in my own words I'd have to say that rhum is similar to moonshine. Fresh, mostly unaged and with lots of power.
The other ingredients, lime and simple syrup, accentuate the rhum. Just like syrup and bitters in an Old-Fashioned they bring out the full flavor of the spirit. Since rhum is made from fresh sugar cane, I always find it best to use a rich simple syrup made from raw sugar or light brown muscovado sugar.
If you want to stay true to the original, the recipe is very simple:
A popular tradition is that of chacun prépare sa propre mort (roughly, each prepares his own death), where instead of serving the mixed drink, the bartender or host will simply place out the ingredients, and everyone will prepare the drink according to his or her own taste. – Wikipedia
That sounds like a fine tradition, but only if you know what you are doing. Chances are most people haven't tasted one yet and don't know what to do. So what is a good way to provide a positive Ti Punch experience without deviating too much from the original formula?
Pour the rhum, lime and syrup into a mixing glass with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Fine strain into a small, pre-chilled Old-Fashioned glass.
A refreshing cocktail with the unusual flavor of rhum agricole supported by a bit of lime-y sweetness. Still a pretty strong cocktail with lots of character, but the sugar and lime help to balance it.
This recipe provides a good baseline for most rhums. Since the rhum I used is quite strong (a great 55% ABV or 110 proof) you might want to reduce the amount of lime and syrup if your rhum is a bit tamer or you want a more authentic experience.
Feel free to use more lime and syrup, but be warned that this, while often tasty, moves further away from the real Ti Punch. It also strongly depends on the rhum used. So, as always, the best way is to just try different recipes.
It's been ages since I had some Ti Punch. I stumbled upon the bottle of rhum when I looked through my shelves the other day and was immediately reminded of great summers and visits to France. To be honest the taste is not for everyone, but it is something unusual and worth a try.
Of course the Ti Punch has all the good characteristics of a proper aperitif. As long as you don't overdo it with the sugar. Try it before a good barbecue during those hot summer days or just sip it while relaxing in your garden. It's a great little drink that takes you right into the Caribbean.
And so ends another episode of Uncommon Aperitifs. I had some fun finally writing down my recipe instead of just throwing everything together. Let's hope you enjoyed it too. If you want to keep up with what's next you can follow me on Twitter or subscribe.
Title image via pixabay.
There are some aged rhums, but you usually use rhum agricole blanc in a Ti Punch. ↩︎