A couple of years ago, Michelle and I were asked to run a 47 foot Leopard catamaran called Tarsha. We cruised from True Blue Bay in Grenada almost to Saint Vincent up through the spectacular Tobago Cays. On visiting friends in Barbados, and while on board Tarsha, we were introduced to two wonderful nautical cocktails, the Barbadian national treasure called simply ‘Rum Punch’ and the very famous ‘Dark ‘n Stormy’. The latter used to be on the menu at Victoria’s Bard and Banker pub and may still be. For some strange reason, it was named on their menu after your humble servant. We occasionally enjoy these cocktails on board Tula in some quiet Gulf Islands anchorage after a day’s sail.
Barbadian Rum Punch (BRP)
Punch comes from the Indian word “panch” which means ‘five’ – the same number of ingredients in BRP. This rhyme, courtesy of Gail Sames, will help you remember those ingredients: “Sour, sweet, strong, weak and spice” or “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak”. After one or more of these delightful drinks, remembering the fifth ingredient may be a challenge. Clue: the fifth ingredient being ‘bitters/ice/nutmeg’.
Barbados abounds with Rum Houses which are really just someone’s house where you can while away the evening. Before you know it – or perhaps not – it is time to wander home. Driving (or sailing) is definitely not recommended after visiting a Rum House.
There are many variations for BRP and it is normally made in batches of at least one gallon. The sweetness of the sugar and the sourness of the lime juice provide a tasty contrast. If you are that way inclined, you can put one of those little umbrellas in your drink. Be careful though, after a couple of these treasures you may forget the umbrella in your glass and attempt to imbibe it.
Bajan Rum Punch
1 part SOUR: 30 ml fresh lime juice & Angostura Bitters
2 parts SWEET: 300 ml simple syrup with Bajan (or brown) raw sugar and water 1:1
3 parts STRONG: 450-500 ml Bajan rum…Mount Gay of course
4 parts WEAK: 600 ml water
Mix in a jug and let it age for a day (if possible!) then serve in a glass full of ice, then sprinkle that 5th ingredients – a little dash of desiccated coconut and/or freshly ground nutmeg. Refreshing.
Dark ‘N Stormy
The DNS is reputedly the national drink of Bermuda, invented just after World War 1. According to Esquire Magazine’s Drinks Database, by the mid-nineteenth century, the official daily rum ration of the British Royal Navy consisted of 2 ounces a head of a blend of dark rums, dominated by the deeply funky stuff made along the Demerara River in Guyana. Sometime after 1860, Gosling Bros., of Hamilton, Bermuda, began marketing its “old rum” – a peculiarly heavy blend of dark rums.
Between 1860 and 1920 the Royal Navy added a ginger-beer bottling plant to its massive Ireland Island Dockyards complex. What the navy was doing bottling ginger beer we don’t know, unless it was intended as a temperance measure. If it was, it failed. The swabbies, given the choice between Demon rum and a temperance beverage, said, “Fanx, gov, we’ll take both.” We’re with them.
This is going to sound like heresy, but we prefer our DNS’s to be made with Zaya Gran Reserva a blended rum from the Caribbean. Zaya has a deep, rich mahogany color and is slightly sweet.
Dark ‘N Stormy
Put ice in a Collin’s glass
Pour in 2 oz of Zaya
Shot of Rose’s Lime Cordial
Top up with ginger beer (not ginger ale!)
Stir and garnish with a fresh lime wheel
Best drunk in Reef Harbour at Tumbo Island at 1700 hours after the anchor is firmly down.