We all dream of waking up on a tropical island, surrounded by white sand, blue ocean and not a care in the world. Sadly, that laid-back island life isn’t a reality for most of us, but there are ways to escape, if only for an hour, with the right libation in hand. As one of the oldest punch recipes in existence, Rum Punch is a sweet, tangy combination of rum, citrus and sugar, oftentimes spiked with fresh fruit juices, liqueurs and bitters. To bring the tropical Caribbean vibes to your doorstep, we snagged signature Rum Punch recipes from five bartenders who know the drink well. Mix one up the next time you need a bright and sunny pick-me-up.
5 Tropical Rum Punches to Transport You to the Islands
It’s hard to find a Rum Punch that isn’t sweet. But just because the party-ready beverage is juicy and fruity doesn’t mean you can’t balance out those sweet notes with flavors that are sour and even spicy. “Our Rum Punch is a perfect swirl of sweet, spice and tart,” says Kevin Flannery, general manager and certified sommelier of Ocean Prime New York. “The Don Pancho rum and Ancho Reyes liqueur are balanced by the freshly squeezed juices to compose a flawless punch.” Even though you could use store-bought bottled orange juice in a pinch, this punch truly shines when it’s made with the freshest stuff possible.
If you’re in NYC’s Times Square neighborhood before or after a Broadway show, you might be hard pressed to find a decent cocktail among the mega chains and tourist traps that are common in the area. Luckily, there’s The Rum House, a classy respite from the madness that offers expertly-made libations and live music most nights of the week. As the name suggests, the bar specializes in rum drinks, whether you’re in the mood for a classic or one of their signature creations. Their Rum Punch has been a house favorite among both locals and tourists for years. “We created it as a happy hour special because we wanted to make something quick, easy, delicious and affordable for our guests,” co-owner Kenneth McCoy says. “We get a lot of guests from all over the globe, so trying to please is a challenge, but you know everyone loves rum.” Two types of rum pack a punch while pineapple and lime juices give it a tangy sweetness. Aromatic bitters round out the drink and provide balance, something that all palates will appreciate.
When you step into Clyde’s in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, you’re instantly transported from the cold concrete city to a warm island getaway—if only for a few rounds. The Trinidadian-owned bar serves cocktails that are crafted with premium rums and fresh Caribbean flavors, along with delicious snacks like salted cod fritters and stuffed crab cakes. For their signature rum punch, head bartender Cyllan Hicks uses a classic ratio to create a perfectly balanced drink. “There's also a little rhyme that goes with the punch,” Hicks says. “It actually describes the measurement of the cocktail: One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak." This recipe may sound simple, but the four ingredients come together to create a beautiful, complex cocktail that will slay at any party you throw.
If you dream of stepping out from your private, beachfront villa onto the white Caribbean sand but don’t have the time or funds to make it happen, this cocktail is the next best thing. Dubbed Paradise Punch, it tastes like Nevis would taste if you could distill the edenic island down into one glass. "All of the fresh squeezed juices are taken from the island,” says Vivian Blanchard, a personal butler and bartender at Paradise Beach Nevis. “And Wray & Nephew Rum is a favorite among the 10,000 locals residing on the island. It’s the perfect way to begin your vacation.” The addition of Midori melon liqueur gives this punch a unique flavor for which there is no substitute. Do as the islanders do and use fresh-squeezed juices to make this tropical treat as bright and delectable as possible.
While you could certainly just mix rum with pineapple juice for a sweet, easy, tropical treat, this Rum Punch takes the combo to the next level with Plantation Pineapple Rum. Dubbed Zack’s Daq, it was created by the lead bartender at Oldfield’s Liquor Room, Zak Yingling. “The rum is the secret, as this bottle offers such an incredible, naturally-infused, slightly caramelized pineapple sweetness, hints of mango and a little easy spice,” he says. “It immediately makes me want to drink it with an al pastor street taco.” Yingling also uses Clement Creole Shrubb, an orange liqueur that he dubs “triple sec’s sexier cousin.” If you can’t find the Creole Shrubb, Yingling suggests Giffard Curaçao Triple Sec as a worthy substitute.
Plantation Pineapple Rum
Clement Creole Shrubb