On Martinique and Guadeloupe, the Ti' Punch is considered the national cocktail, celebrating Rhum Agricole - one of their most important export goods.
Quick Facts Ti' Punch
- Method: built in glass
- Flavor profile: boozy, earthy
- How to serve it: over ice
- Glassware: Old Fashioned Glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 35% ABV, 18 grams of alcohol per serving
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Bar spoon
- 1.5 oz Rhum Agricole
- 0.25 oz Sugar cane syrup
- 1 lime disc
- Add Rhum and sugar cane syrup into a glass and stir them well.1.5 oz Rhum Agricole, 0.25 oz Sugar cane syrup
- Press the lime disc with your finger and thumb and drop the disc into the drink.1 lime disc
- Optional: Add ice and stir once again before drinking.
About the ingredients
The Ti'Punch recipe only calls for three ingredients - one lime wheel and two very particular liquids - Rhum Agricole and cane sugar syrup, both deserve some attention:
Rhum, or Rhum Agricole: is a specific subtype of rum made from fermented sugar cane juice. Its origin is in the French-speaking parts of the Caribbean, and only a few distilleries attempt to make this special rum type.
The taste is much lighter and more grassy, earthy, and vegetal compared to regular rum. If you want to learn more about this Caribbean export, read the article about Rum vs. Rhum.
Sugar cane syrup: this very distinct type of sugar syrup is made with sugar cane juice. You can get it in selected stores from brands like JM (J.M Sirop de Canne) and Petit Canne (Petit Canne Sugar Cane Syrup).
Compared to simple syrup, it has a pronounced molasses flavor that perfectly complements the taste of Rhum Agricole.
If you want to make something similar at home, try Demerara syrup. Demerara sugar also has a pronounced molasses flavor and is easy to get.
What does Ti' Punch mean?
The name of the Ti' Punch cocktail translates to "small punch". Ti is an abbreviation of the French (and Creole) word petite, which means small - probably referring to the size of the drink.
As the name further suggests, the Ti' Punch packs a punch. The main part of the drink is Rhum Agricole, with a whopping alcohol content between 45% and 55% ABV. The resulting cocktail is definitely potent and typically contains above 30% alcohol.
In a way, the Ti' Punch is the Rhum equivalent of the famous Cuban Daiquiri. But compared to the Daiquiri, the Ti' Punch actually uses way less lime juice.
Tips to prepare the Ti' Punch Cocktail
So, to make a Ti' Punch, pour Rhum and sugar syrup into a glass and stir well. Then cut off a disc from one side of a lime - it should contain a bit of flesh.
Now, squeeze the disc with your finger and thumb before dropping it into the drink. That's all you need for a proper Ti' Punch.
Of course, there's the question of ice or no ice? But answering that is a bit more complex for the Ti' Punch.
Ice or no ice?
In modern cocktail venues, the Ti' Punch is served on ice like many other mixed drinks. However, if you order this classic in Martinique, you might get a warm cocktail instead.
Traditionalists in the French Caribbean often imbibe a Ti' Punch at room temperature. And in that part of the world, this usually means something above 80°F (26 °C) on average.
The reason for drinking the Ti' Punch warm is the Rhum. -The funky, earthy, and grassy taste of the spirit is even more pronounced when enjoyed warm. In combination with ice, its flavors are more restrained.
The flavors of Rhum are somewhat of an acquired taste. If you're new to Rhum, these flavors might be a bit irritating and too much. Therefore serving a Ti' Punch on ice is easier to drink.
However, once you're used to the taste and really begin relishing the flavors, you may want to try your next Ti' Punch without ice.
How to serve a Ti' Punch in the Caribbean
There is a tradition in bars and events on Martinique and Guadeloupe that calls for the toast "chacun prépare sa propre mort". This favorite French saying translates to "Everyone prepares their own death".
Related to the Ti' Punch, it means that a bartender or bar provides all assets like Rhum, sugar cane syrup, limes, ice, and glassware.
Then each guest is left to build their own drink to their liking. - A custom unheard of in bars in other parts of the world.