The Story Behind The Shannon Mustipher’s Barbadian Rum Punch

This punch was among the most popular libations in the American colonies, and with good reason: A mixture of bold rum, sugar, citrus, and tea, colonial-era punches are easy to prepare ahead of time and can be scaled up to big batches. Additionally, these libations offered drinkers a taste of the exotic via the inclusion of imported citrus and fragrant teas. While one can easily make a solid punch with four ingredients, this style of drink welcomes elaboration, and the use of as many as a dozen elements, if your wallet and patience can handle to build such a concoction.

Finally, it bears mentioning that punch was essential to the American political process, and deserves the same acclaim as pie: In the early days of our nation, it was not uncommon for those seeking public office to drink it at their speeches, rallies, and all the way to the ballot box. It proved to be an effective means to entertain — and persuade — voters. (This tactic was so successful that some historians credit rum punch as key to George Washington’s ability to win the presidency.) While I am certain that his oratory and policies were convincing in their own right, I don’t doubt that the hospitality he demonstrated by sharing his private stock of Barbadian rum, which was highly prized and preferred over high-end whiskeys, sent a strong message that he had the people’s backs.

This recipe originally appeared in the VinePair article, "Taste American History With Classic Rum Drinks and Contemporary Riffs," written by Shannon Mustipher.


  • 375 milliliters Barbados Rum, such as Mount Gay Ecliipse
  • 200 milliliters sugar syrup
  • 150 milliliters fresh-pressed lime juice
  • 1 liter water
  • 8 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Lime or orange wedges
  • Freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive container, stir to mix.
  2. Chill for 4-6 hours minimum; 24 hours is best.
  3. To serve, pour over ice in a chilled Collins glass.
  4. Garnish with lime wedge and fresh grated nutmeg.

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Updated: 2021-01-12

Shannon Mustipher’s Barbadian Rum Punch Recipe