Liquid History of Planter’s Punch


Take a sip back in history with us as we explore one of the world’s most famous rum cocktails, Planter’s Punch

Homemade Jamaican Rum Punch

The origin of the Planter’s Punch cocktail is murky. The Planters Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, is often credited as the punch’s place of origin. However, while rum and punch played undeniable roles in the history of Charleston, there are no clear links connecting the “Planter’s” variation to the Holy City. Others cite the Planter’s Hotel in St.Louis, Missouri, as the birthplace for the drink, but there’s little evidence to back that claim up either (other than the coincidental sharing of the “Planter’s” name).

Rum punch’s origins can be traced to Jamaica, the birthplace of the spirit. The original recipes for Planter’s Punch were all written in verse with slight variations. The very first recipe appeared in a London magazine, appropriately titled Fun, in 1878:

Planter’s Punch! A West Indian Recipe

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.

A version of the recipe, written in verse, later appeared in the New York Times in 1908.

Two of sour,

one and a half of sweet,

three of strong and four of weak

The recipe later appeared in the Kansas City Star in 1903, and by then, the verses had been edited down to just four lines:

One of sour

One of sweet

Two of strong

And one of weak

In 1908, The New York Times printed the following version:

Take two of sour (lime let it be)

To one and a half of sweet

Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,

And add four parts of weak

While the verses varied slightly, the standard ingredients in Planter’s Punch typically stayed the same. After prohibition, tropical drinks became trendy as high-quality spirits became available in the United States, and Planter’s Punch became a popular drink of choice.

The “standard” Planter’s Punch recipe evolved to require just four basic ingredients: rum, lime, sugar, and water, making it similar to a Grog. Fruit slices were often added to the mixtures, and eventually, the sliced fruit was replaced with citrus juices such as grapefruit and orange. These days, the ingredients are typically blended with a cocktail shaker, though that’s not required for the punch.


Homemade Jamaican Rum Punch

When it comes to a cocktail like Planter’s Punch, it’s safe to say that no single “standard” recipe is “right.” Wayne Curtis, the author of And a Bottle of Rum, said it best, “Planter’s Punch is a class of drink rather than a single cocktail, with hundreds of variations floating around and move invented daily.”

Try our recipe made with Pusser’s Rum, and let us know how you like it.

Pusser’s Rum Planter’s Punch

2-ounces (~60 ml) Pusser’s Rum
1/4-ounce (~7 ml) grenadine
Equal parts sour mix and either pineapple or orange juice to fill
Club soda (optional)
Maraschino cherry for garnish
Lemon or orange slice for garnish

Pour the rum, grenadine and juice into a mixing glass filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes.
Top with club soda (optional). Garnish with lemon slice and cherry.