How to make the perfect rum punch

By Fiona Sims

How to make the perfect rum punch

Blue paint peels off the sea spray-soaked wooden and tin-roofed shack. Cans of tuna are stacked five deep next to speakers that belt out reggae. There’s a clack and clatter of dominos being played as a girl in sunflower yellow dress pours rum punch into a plastic cup. Where am I? A Barbados rum shop.

If you want to experience the real deal in Barbados, forget the glitzy bars that abound on the island and head to one of 1600 rum shops. Barbados runs on run. Sugar and rum are an integral part on the island’s psyche. Barbados was where the English discovered that they could make their fortune in sugar; and they put rum on the map.

I’ll never forget my first sip of rum punch – sand between my toes, sun going down, tree frogs singing. It was a good one, too – no e-number-packed lime mix (used by lots of bars in the Caribbean), but freshly squeezed limes, a dash of Angostura bitters, freshly grated nutmeg. That prompted more exploration, different cocktails (I love a rum sour), graduating on to sipping rums. In short, rum is my spirit of choice.

I first published this recipe in The Boat Cookbook. The ratio works for any punch, pretty much. It’s the most popular drink I make. And I have LaurelAnn Morley at The Cove restaurant in Barbados to thank for it – she first sang this little ditty to me. All together now: ‘One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak.’ Hey presto, perfect, if rather lethal punch.

1 shot fresh lime juice

2 shots sugar syrup

3 shots rum

4 shots water

dash or two of Angostura bitters

Garnish: pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Mix all the ingredients together and stir until well combined. Add ice cubes, a few drops of Angostura bitters and sprinkle with the grated nutmeg before serving.