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History of the classic Planter’s Punch

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1879 | Jamaica, British Commonwealth

The word "punch," when translated from Hindi, signifies the number 5, or the open palm of the hand. In its homeland of India, this favorite drink of British soldiers was prepared from five ingredients: tea, lemon juice, sugar, water, and a local handmade distillate, made from rice and palm hearts. In the 17th century, during the East India Company's heyday, the punch's recipe made its way to England, then around Europe, where local and national spirits were mixed in.

In London, a whole class of establishments appeared called Punch Houses. In Germany, a hot rum punch called Feuerzangenbowle was invented, and in America, punch was the first mixed drink among high society, long before anyone could imagine the notion of a cocktail. The majority of experts agree than the author behind the first PLANTERS PUNCH was Fred L. Meyer, who in 1879 began producing his own brand of Jamaican rum. According to legend, he celebrated the opening of the company with a punch made from his own product. Most often, the debut recipe for PLANTERS PUNCH is believed to be a poem published in the New York Times in 1908, among other publications, which confirms the classic formula for creating punch: five components, including sour, sweet, strong, weak, and a mysterious "fifth element," spicy.

It must be added that it was PLANTERS PUNCH that was considered the forefather of all tiki cocktails. It was taken as inspiration by the famous Don Beachcomber, when he created his tropical mixes. Moreover, Don's eternal competitor, Trader Vic, was known for his original versions of the PLANTERS PUNCH. If you try hard, you can count more than a dozen different interpretations of the cocktail from master bartenders. You yourself can mix your own version of the classic if you follow the proportions!

See the recipe



Historian: Vladimir Zhuravlev

Illustration: Moe

Journalists: Sara Davis, Samantha Johnson

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