The Story Behind The Donga Punch

“More is more.” “What one rum can’t do, three can.” These phrases have long been tentpoles of tropical cocktail creation, but that’s far from the case with the Donga Punch, a Don the Beachcomber classic that achieves resounding complexity with just three ingredients. A minimalist among maximalist cocktails, the Donga Punch is a refreshing, easy-to-make drink composed of aged Martinique rum, lime juice, and Don’s Mix — the secret ingredient of many Donn Beach staples.

The Donga Punch is one of the myriad Don the Beachcomber recipes that we only now know thanks to the efforts of bartenders Dick Santiago and Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. Santiago was a Filipino immigrant who started bartending for Beachcomber in 1933. During his 15-year stint, he carried a notebook in his shirt pocket where he jotted down numerous house recipes. Since Beach never published his cocktail specs, many were lost until Santiago’s daughter gave Berry her father’s notebook. Berry went on to publish these recipes, including the Zombie, the Pearl Diver, and the Donga Punch in his seminal 2007 tome “Sippin’ Safari.”

It’s tough to say for sure when the Donga Punch was created, but Berry writes that it was most likely invented by Beach after 1937 because of the ingredient coding, which began then. At the time, Beach began keeping the specs for his many house syrups and juice blends under lock and key so that untrustworthy employees couldn’t share them with his rivals — as bartender Ray Buhen had once done. Fortunately, Berry handled the legwork on the decoding front, so we now have the specs for Don’s Mix, Don’s Gardenia Mix, and many other house concoctions.

Aside from the legendary mix, another crucial ingredient in this cocktail is aged Martinique rum, more commonly known as rhum agricole. Unlike other categories, which are made from sugar cane byproducts like molasses, rhum agricole is distilled from raw, pressed sugar cane, giving it a unique sense of its origin’s terroir. Its flavor is often described as grassy, fruity, and rich in hogo, making it the perfect base for its spicy-sweet, citrusy cohorts in the Donga Punch.

In “Sippin’ Safari,” the drink is pictured in a ceramic tiki mug sculpted after Donn Beach’s head and garnished with an orchid. However, any mug or tall glass will do. Though no garnish is necessary, feel free to top it off with a paper umbrella, flower, or fruit of your choice.


  • 1 ½ ounces aged Martinique rum
  • 1 ½ ounces Don’s Mix
  • ¾ ounce lime juice


  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker half-filled with crushed ice.
  2. Shake until chilled, no more than 10 seconds.
  3. Dirty dump into a pilsner glass, or tiki mug of your choice.
  4. Add more crushed ice to fill, if necessary.

Rate This Recipe:

(2 votes)

Yield: 1
Calories: 172
Updated: 2024-05-07

Donga Punch Recipe Video