The Story Behind The Planter’s Punch

Planter’s Punch has been the unofficial cocktail of Jamaica since the late 19th century. It’s the ultimate tropical, slightly spicy thirst-quencher.

“Punches” have been documented in the Caribbean as early as 1694, though the drink’s concept presumably originated in India. While Indian texts make no mention of it, English merchants wrote fondly of “punch,” describing it as a communal beverage consisting of “wine (palm arrack), lime, sugar, rose water, and spices” served in a large bowl. It is suspected to have been invented by the English using local Indian ingredients, then eventually made its way to the Caribbean via trade routes.

By the 1900s, the “punch” concept had slowly morphed from the mildly impractical, special-occasion, shared drink into a single-serving beverage, famously offered at Jamaica’s Myrtle Bank Hotel in Kingston. The cocktail really took off outside Jamaica in 1924 when Fred L. Myers of the Myers’s Rum company sent a bartender to England to make Planter’s Punches for the British Empire Exhibition in London at the bar of the West Indies Pavillion.

Since then, the cocktail has evolved into more of a category rather than a specific drink. Some recipes call for allspice dram, Demerara syrup, or a rotating cast of fruit juices — most commonly pineapple, guava, or passion fruit. It's fertile ground for experimentation, and a cocktail umbrella is always welcome.

Regardless of what one chooses to do with their Planter’s Punch, the drink should build upon the sing-song foundation of “one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak,” with “a touch of spice to make it nice.” In the case of the recipe below, the “weak” is the club soda and the ice.


  • 2 ounces aged dark Jamaican rum
  • 1 ½ ounces velvet falernum
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: lemon wheel, orange wheel, mint sprig, and a cherry


  1. Add rum, falernum, and lime juice to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake until chilled.
  3. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice.
  4. Top with club soda and a dash of bitters.
  5. Garnish with a lemon wheel, orange wheel, mint sprig, and a cherry.

Rate This Recipe:

(109 votes)

Yield: 1
Calories: 251
Updated: 2023-03-31

Planter’s Punch Recipe Video