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Cocktail In Focus: Ti’ Punch

The Ti’ Punch (pronounced “tee paunch”) is the national cocktail of Martinique and is extremely popular in the French islands in the West Indies including Guadeloupe and Haiti. The name is taken from the Creole Petit Punch and has been abbreviated over the years down to just Ti’ Punch. It is created by specifically by adding a large amount rhum agricole, with a touch of fresh lime juice and a splash of cane syrup. It must be rhum and not rum. To understand the difference between the two types please read my earlier article here. It seems this cocktail is rhum agricole’s answer to the rum based daiquiri as the two are quite similar.

One of the main differences the Ti’ Punch has with the daiquiri is the way it is mixed. It uses a unique type of swizzle stick that is usually crafted from and named after a perennial tree called the bois lele, which is native to that region of the world. This swizzle is used to dissolve all of the ingredients of the cocktail. It has a unique end to it which spreads out into five separate small sections. A bartender will usually use two hands on the stick and roll it between his palms in a fashion similar to starting a fire when mixing.

The Ti’ Punch is usually served before meals as an aperitif due to the high alcoholic strength of it. There is also a tradition known as “chacun prepare sa propre mort” which roughly translates to each prepares his own death. This is where the bartender or the host will just lay out the ingredients and the drinkers will prepare the cocktail to their own taste. I have added ice to my version of the cocktail below as I feel the ice helps to allow the flavours to meld together. However, purists agree that a real Ti’ Punch should be served without ice.

The recipe for a Ti’ Punch is (for one person);

  • 2 ounces of rhum agricole (white or aged)
  • 0.25 ounces of cane syrup
  • 1 lime wedge

Directions: In a glass add the cane syrup and squeeze of lime. Then add the rhum and a few ice ice cubes. Stir gently until all dissolved together (preferably with a bois lele) and add the lime coin garnish before enjoying!

The ingredients only help to enhance the flavour of the rhum agricole rather than overpower it. They are sourced locally and the cocktail is enjoyed by pretty much everybody who enjoys a rhum agricole. With such a wide variety of ways to add such simple ingredients, why not try a few yourselves and let us know which version you find suits you the best!

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Rum Or Rhum – What’s The Difference?

If you have started to look for different rums when out or over the internet you may have started to see a change in certain spellings of rum. You may have noticed an ‘h’ being added to certain rums. This is not just a difference in spelling due to the region or place where the rum is made but there is actually a material difference in the manufacture of the rum from a very early stage of the process.

When the islands in the Caribbean were invaded and colonised they were done so by four major civilisations; English, Spanish, Dutch and French. All except the Dutch began distillation of rum on a large scale and as a result have different textures and tastes to each other. The English rums are deeper and full bodied rums e.g. Mount Gay from Barbados. The Spanish were crisper and lighter e.g. Brugal from the Dominican Republic. Both created rum using the molasses produced when making sugar from the sugar cane crop.

The French however not only used this process to make rum, but also decided to use rum made from sugar cane juice. They make a sugar solution from this called ‘vesou.’ Made in this way it is officially called Rhum Agricole, but usually shortened to Rhum. A major difference between molasses and cane juice is that molasses are very stable and can and are shipped all over the world. Cane juice however, is prone to degeneration and as a result is sourced locally so that it is fresh for the distilleries. It is also important to know that currently, Rhum makes up only about 3-5% of all rum production in the world.

As you can imagine using a different ingredient very early on in the production of a rhum would result in different flavours being found in Rhum than Rum. An example of a couple of well-known Rhum Agricole include Rhum JM and Clement both from Martinique. Next time you are at a bar, why not ask to try a Rhum and see how you find the difference between them