But, why is all the rum gone? It is a frequently heard refrain around our house.

This is where rum is grown. Well the sugar cane at least. This is the Valle de los Ingenios on the south cast of Cuba near Trinidad. The area is now a World Heritage Site. (Photo from El-lens on Flickr)

My husband loves his rum.  His favourites are Mount Gay, which hails from Barbados, and Jamaica’s pride, Appleton Estate.  I’m quite partial to a Cuban white rum, that despite its colour has a sweet, caramel flavour.  Alas, Ron Cuba seems to be particular to the East Coast, ie. Santiago, and is not produced for export.

I am a strong believer that different rums do different jobs.  I use Havana Club White in my mojitos, Appleton’s with Coke or ginger ale, Mount Gay is great for sipping straight-up or on the rocks.  A few years ago, we found an amazing rum while on vacation in the Bahamas.  We wandered into a liquor store in the tourist district of Nassau where we found a table full of bottles and a stack of plastic cups.  No tasting fee, no limits, just taste away and buy what you like.  The free tasting was surprising enough, but it gets better.  After tasting everything we could, we settled on a light amber from Barbados.  We searched the store for it, expecting to find it with the premium products. But no, it was the bargain brand.  At $7.00 USD per litre, we brought home three.

The Castillo de los Tres Santos Magnos del Morro stands guard at the entrance to Havana harbour. Havana remains the centre of the Cuban sugar trade which had its beginnings in the 16th Century.

Enough about the sugar and the rum, this blog is supposed to be about rum punch…

For as long as there has been rum, there has been rum punch.  So that takes us back to the 17th century Caribbean sugar plantations.  Now that’s a drink with some history!  With rum as my starting point I could tell you a story about early-modern commerce, emerging capitalism, environmental degradation, slavery, the Atlantic world, pirates, prohibition, science, agriculture… you get the idea.  But today’s story is about punch.  And, punch means different things to different people.  Just about any cocktail is a punch on some level.  The formula is simple but the ingredients infinite.

My husband’s favourite “punch” is rum and Coke, but he has a real and randomly articulated love for a good Mai Tai.  He has a habit of ordering a Mai Tai at last call or at least at the point that “one more” is already more than one-to-many.  In honour of my husband, the classic Mai Tai will be today’s incarnation of the rum punch.

The basic formula for punch, rum or otherwise, is an easily remembered ratio: one sour, two sweet, three strong, four weak.  In its simplest form, that would be 1 part lemon or lime, 2 parts simple syrup, 3 parts rum and 4 parts soda water.   It’s not a bad start… add some mint and you’ve got a mojito!  Of course this is only a guide.

Not your high school prom punch.

The Mai Tai is just a variation on this simple theme with a heavy emphasis on the rum.

  • 1/2 part lime
  • 1 part light rum
  • 1 part dark rum
  • 1 part coconut rum
  • 4 parts pineapple juice

Mix and pour over ice.   A drizzle of grenadine isn’t a bad touch.

Coconut rum is not traditional, but I really like it.  There is plenty of sweet already, so no need to add more.  And, you could use orange juice, a papaya or anything else you like, but nothing makes me think of the tropics more than pineapple.

So there you have it.  Delicious, simple and timeless, just like rum.

Bon appétit


And, just for the record, that most famous of all Cuban rums, Bacardi, hasn’t been Cuban since the revolution.  Bacardi is headquartered in Bermuda and has production facilities in Puerto Rico.