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How to Make Barbados Rum Punch

Terry’s Cooking Light magazine had an article entitled “The Golden Rum Ratio.” It talked about how Barbados, “the Caribbean birthplace of rum,” has a rum punch recipe that is as foolproof as it is versatile. What a great idea for a rum tasting. Does the rum selection matter in a traditional Barbados Rum Punch? As usual, we were up for the challenge.

There’s a poem to help you remember the recipe for rum punch:

One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak, a dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice, serve well chilled with plenty of ice.

There’s no dispute about the sour in this drink – lime juice. It’s the mainstay in many Caribbean drinks. The sweet is your basic simple syrup either freshly made or out of the bottle.  You can also dissolve brown sugar in lime juice as you would for a mojito. Of course, rum is the strong with some recipes going so far to say, “the darker the better.” The traditional weak is water though some use fruit juice. To us, that would be a Barbados Rum FRUIT Punch but if you want to go that route we would encourage you to reduce the sugar.

We decided to use the traditional recipe with simple syrup and the water. Since Mt. Gay is the rum of choice in Barbados we selected a golden and a dark (if truly darker is better). Then we grabbed three additional rums from different Caribbean islands and varying degrees of “darkness.”

We were pretty much in harmony about our likes and dislikes though, as usual, we each picked a different favorite.

Mt. Gay Extra Old – Barbados
The sweet molasses from the nose of the rum cuts the lime and is in harmony with the simple syrup. The stronger, darker rum balances out the sweetness. This may prove the adage “the darker the better.”

Mt Gay Black Barrel (Small Batch) – Barbados
The oak characteristic of the rum comes through the subtle lime and sugar. The drink is enjoyable and more of a sipper because the rum is the star. This is Clint’s favorite.

Matusalem Gran Reserve (Cuban Style Rum) – Dominican Republic
We both love this drink. The progression of taste is sweet, rum then lime. The only problem Clint had was the lack of rum characteristics. This was a close second for both of us.

Appleton Special – Jamaica
The Appleton rum notes of honey, banana and coconut husks shine in this drink.  The lime balances the sweet perfectly. This is Terry’s favorite.

Don Q – Puerto Rico
One word – SWEET.  The lime doesn’t even cut the sweetness of the drink. The only way you are going to know there is rum in this cocktail is after four or five drinks.

So, does the rum matter?  ABSOLUTELY!

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