Ti’ Punch: A One of a Kind Simple Rhum Agricole Cocktail
Arguably the most popular drink throughout all of the French West Indies, the ti’ punch (short for petite punch) is a triumph of simplicity. Combining just three ingredients (white rhum agricole, a little sweet in the form of sugar or cane syrup, and lime) with a joie de vivre, it’s an essential taste of the island of Martinique.
Ti’ punch introductions
I got my first taste of ti’ punch during my first trip to Martinique years ago. Here’s something you may find hard to believe: I wasn’t a fan.
That first ti’ punch was just so harsh and intensely sweet that I couldn’t get right with it. I wanted to smooth it out with some ice, but my sage Martinique friends wouldn’t allow it.
Now, some years later, having developed a deeper appreciation for rhum agricole, I’m glad they steered me right.
Ice would surely only work to change the ti’ punch character. It should be bold, beautiful, and uncompromising like the islands in which it’s enjoyed. Defacing that cocktail with ice cubes would undoubtedly create something altogether different. Something less interesting.
How to enjoy a ti’ punch
For me now, there’s nothing quite so enjoyable as the taste of a ti’ punch in Martinique.
Rest assured that when you visit, you’ll find it easy to get a taste of ’em there too. That’s because ti’ punch is generally served, or offered before any meal in Martinique not named breakfast.
It’s traditionally enjoyed as an apéritif, though no one will frown if you order, or mix one up virtually any time of the day.
Your own ti’ punch
This brings me to another neat tradition about the ti’ punch. Often, when you order one at a bar or restaurant, you may not simply receive one. Instead, your server will give you the option of making one yourself.
Why? Martinicans are particular about rhum agricole cocktails. So, everyone’s ti’ punch is like a fingerprint. As unique as the person drinking it. Which is somewhat remarkable considering the little that goes into making ’em.
So, how can you mix one up for yourself? Here’s all you need to do.
Ti’ punch recipe
As I mentioned above, everyone’s ti’ punch recipe is ever so slightly nuanced. Thus, the recipe might as well read as grab a small rocks glass, then add the rum, sugar syrup, and finally squeeze the lime juice to taste.
That said, since you came here looking for a little guidance on how to start your journey towards your dream ti’ punch, we’ll share some specifics.
For rhums, we highly recommend some of Martinique’s finest agricoles including Rhum JM, Rhum Clément, Trois Rivieres, or Rhum HSE. Although Patrick also has a soft spot for the rhums of Guadeloupe. Especially Rhum Bologne, Rhum Longueteau, and Rhum Damoiseau.
Whatever you do, just be sure your white rhum of choice is from the French Caribbean.
OK, now that we’ve gotten that essential direction out of the way, find the recipe below.
À votre santé!
- 2 oz white rhum agricole
- .25 teaspoon cane syrup
- 1 small lime wedge
- In a small rocks glass, add cane syrup and squeezed lime wedge.
- Add rhum agricole. Add more or less to taste.
- Stir it all up, preferably with a bois le le, and voilà!