Barbados Rum Punch

What do you mean, this isn't cooking?  Who said that? Hands up. Listen, matey, in this house cooking is any combination of foods to produce a routine masterpiece. Ice is food; rum is food; so are the other ingredients. So that's you told.

I have to say that as so many rum based cocktails are just a vehicle for whatever fruit juices (often sweet) are to be found in the fridge they hold little appeal for me. Having just arrived at Cobblers Cove after a full day travelling, I accepted the proffered glass more with a sense of politeness than expectation. A pleasant surprise.

I was also completely out when it came to guessing the ingredients. Orange? I suggested, fooled by the lovely colour. Wrong - not many oranges are grown on the island. The hue comes primarily from the rum itself. Dark rum can be a little harsh. For this drink, do get hold of some of the golden variety, for a smooth flavour. The best known Barbadian rum is Mount Gay. Others include Four Square and St Nicholas. Having said that, just as you wouldn't use an aged malt in a cocktail, make sure you're not using the very best stuff. That's best drunk neat or with just a little water, just like whisky.

The second curve ball that I missed was the heat on the back of the throat. Ginger, I confidently declared. Nope again. Had I watched it being made, I would have seen the nutmeg being grated on top. The recipe is ridiculously simple. You can make a rum punch with anything you want, but do try this authentic version if you have the ingredients. If it comes out a little sweet for your taste, just adjust the amount of sugar syrup. You could, I suppose, use soda water instead of plain, but they tend not to in Barbados.

First make your sugar syrup. Gently heat equal amounts of caster sugar and water in a pan until the sugar has melted. Allow to cool. A batch will last in the fridge for a few weeks. Once it starts to discolour, dispose of it.

The recipe which I found for one drink stipulated  90ml of rum!  Standard pub measure is either 25 or 35ml. For that reason I'm simply specifying relative measures. The rest is up to you and, as I say, you may want to adjust the sugar. Finally, the lime juice must be fresh. Bottled stuff just won't cut it.


3 parts Barbados golden rum; 4 parts water; 1 part fresh lime juice; 2 parts sugar syrup; 1 dash angostura bitters; good grating of nutmeg.


Make either in a large glass with a lot of ice, or do a batch in a jug. Mix the rum, water, juice and syrup together and stir well. Add the bitters, grate the nutmeg over the top and stir again. If you want a garnish, a slice of orange or a wedge of lime would be good. Contrary to many recipes, do NOT garnish with a glacé cherry. You know it looks naff, and nobody likes them.

I mentioned the top notch rums. For blended drinks on the island they are more likely to use a brand named Old Brigand. The label features a pirate complete with eye patch. If, when in Barbados, you want to order a rum and coke with a modicum of street cred, ask for a Coke and a one eyed man.

Leave a Comment