Drink Type: Cocktail
2 oz. Rhum Clement Premier Canne White Rum (more Rhum Clement Premier Canne White Rum drinks)
In a rocks or old-fashioned glass, squeeze the lime slice and pour the Sugar Syrup over the lime, which has been cut from the side of the fruit so that the aromatic oils from the peel will flavor the drink. Add the rum and use a Bois Lele (i.e. pronged wooden swizzle stick usually plucked from a tree native to Martinique) or a simple bar spoon to stir the drink until the syrup is dissolved; add a tablespoon of crushed ice and briefly stir again to chill the drink.
The History of The Little Punch that Could…From Rhum Clément
‘Ti Punch (pronounced Teee Pauncchh!) is without debate the “national” cocktail of Martinique and Guadeloupe. "Ti" is the short Créole version for "petite” however there is nothing small about this drink. It is a simple drink to make as it has only a few ingredients (Rhum Agricole, lime and sugarcane syrup or raw sugar) but it must be made precisely without cutting corners or it is not an authentic ‘Ti Punch. In this potent tippler, the dry and grassy vegetal flavors and grilled fruit aromas from Martinique’s illustrious Rhum Agricole are elegantly showcased in the cocktail. ‘Ti Punch is a cousin to the Daiquiri or the Caipirinha, but please don’t confuse these drinks. ‘Ti Punch is like no other rum cocktail. The recipe for ‘Ti Punch varies based on where you are in French West Indies and even which home you are visiting. The Clément family has a longstanding and fundamental tradition of making ‘Ti Punch for all guests who visit Habitation Clément in Martinique or at any one of their fabulous events around the world. As Rhum Clément is now available in all 50 US states, it is the ideal time to enlighten the American imbiber to the subtle complexities of the ‘Ti Punch.
Wherever this cocktail is made, and more specifically, how it is created aside; what goes unchallenged is that this cocktail can only be made properly with a true Rhum Agricole such as Rhum Clément. If you dare substitute industrial rum (which is made from Molasses – a by-product of processed sugarcane rather than from freshly-pressed sugarcane juice) or a Cachaca (which is made from any variety of sugarcane, has a sharper more industrial flavor and can contain additives such as corn meal, corn flour or rice bran), you might as well be drinking fortified lime/sugar water. As Rhum Agricole is the primary component to the drink, its classic dry and grassy flavor profile is what forms the cocktail’s base, creating the unparalleled flavor profile of the drink. The sugarcane syrup (which can be prepared in advance, or can be substituted with a high-quality sugar-in-the-raw) and the squeezed lime disk are play as complimentary ingredient to enhance the fine characters of Clément’s Rhum Agricole.
“I have been making ‘Ti Punch for my mother (originally from Martinique) since I was about 6 years old,” says Benjamin Melin-Jones, a fourth generation member of the Clément family as well as the Managing Director of Rhum Clément in the US. “It was almost a ritual when she came home from work and took a 20 minute rest before she prepared the evening’s meal. However I will never forget when I made a ‘Ti Punch in Martinique for my uncle and he almost spit it out on my shoes. My recipe had not varied from the one I always made. He asked for my method of preparation and I responded with fresh cut lime, rhum blanc, syrup and crushed ice. He exclaimed: ‘Ice! Were you raised in Guadeloupe?’ This is the perfect example of how the debate over how to create a ‘Ti Punch ignites passionate response even amongst family.”
As everyone has their own preference of how to enjoy ‘Ti Punch, most restaurants in Martinique, upon order of the cocktail, will deliver to the table a bottle of Rhum Blanc or Rhum Vieux (upon request), a small bowl of cut limes, a tray of sugar in the raw and/or a small bottle of Sirop de Canne to allow each patron to make their own according to personal preference. More and more restaurants will also accompany the ‘Ti Punch tray with a small bowl of ice cubes as it is becoming more common for people to have one ice cube in the drink.
When made properly, the drink brings to life the natural flavors and aromas showcasing the terroir of Rhum Agricole. The lime’s tartness brings out the vibrant sugarcane character of the Rhum Agricole, the citrus oils play harmoniously with the dry grassy body of the spirit and the sweet cane syrup awakens the grilled tropical fruit flavors and works to tie it all together. This cocktail is a joy on a hot day and ideal to serve at parties with rum loving friends. When catering at home, a traditional way to serve ‘Ti Punch to present in a way as: “chacun prépare sa propre mort” (each prepares their own death). On a serving tray with a bottle of Rhum Agricole, place a small bowl of cut limes, a bottle of sugarcane syrup (can also use a spiced simple syrup at home as illustrated in our recipe above) and a small dish of ice cubes. As the day turns into night, Ti Punch is excellent when made with aged rhum. The correct pronunciation, of course, is essential. Just like the islanders on Martinique, say it loud and say it in French, “Teee Pauncchh!”
Enjoy ‘Ti Punch for breakfast, lunch, mid afternoon, as an aperitif before dinner or with a cigar, but always enjoy responsibly. While there are several versions of ‘Ti Punch, this is the official Rhum Clément ‘Ti Punch.