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Author Notes: Centuries ago in Barbados, this wondrously adaptable recipe was frequently employed in plantation houses. To this day in the West Indies this rhythmic ratio is enshrined both as a cultural relic of a by-gone era, as well as a culinary icon that island folk still employ. Its ease and reliability has traveled throughout the Caribbean and it’s one of those storied recipes passed down from generation to the next by rich oral tradition. In the eighteenth century making of Rum Punch: lime, sugar, dark rum and water were the only ingredients employed, and sometimes a shower of grated nutmeg. In that era, plantation owners and men of import would carry silver, pocket-sized, nutmeg graters for the sole purpose of garnishing their rum punch (to procure one of those graters today would set you back a couple thousand dollars). A lot has changed with the ingredients and implementation of Rum Punch the world over and this Sweet Tea version is a testament to the sublime adaptability of a simple cocktail recipe. When it comes to the perennial Caribbean staple, however, the essentials never change, and the essential here is the ratio: One part Sour. Two parts Sweet. Three parts Strong. Four parts Weak. —Brigid Washington
Makes: 2 quarts
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 5 min
cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
cup fresh squeezed lime juice
cups simple syrup
cups good dark rum
cups freshly brewed Black Tea
tablespoons Angostura bitters
lemon, sliced thin
pineapple, trimmed, sliced lengthways into six stalks
dash grated nutmeg
- Brew the Tea. Add tea bags to boiled water and steep for 5 minutes.
- Fill a pitcher a quarter way with ice.
- To the ice add the freshly brewed tea.
- Then add the citrus juices, simple syrup, rum and bitters. Stir to combine until the ice has melted.
- Add most of the pineapple stalks and lemon slices to the pitcher, reserving some to garnish individual glasses.
- To Serve: Place 2 to 3 large ice-cubes in a highball glass.
- Fill the glass with the Sweet Tea Rum Punch, and then add a pineapple stalk and a lemon slice followed by a dash of nutmeg.