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Martinique Rum Cocktails


Rum drinks are the mainstay of many spring vacations, mojitos and piña coladas abound. These drinks are traditionally made with white (clear) rum such as Bacardi. The white rum is made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and is often referred to as “industrial rum.”

On the French Caribbean island of Martinique, rum is considered a symbol of the island. There are over a dozen rum distilleries on the small island, producing rhum agricole from pure fermented sugar cane juice rather than from molasses. A hundred kilos of sugar cane produces 10 liters of rhum agricole. Rhum agricole that is aged for three years in casks of 650 liters or less is called rhum vieux (aged rum) and is amongst the most highly regarded rums in the world. Some of the more famous distilleries on Martinique are Clément, Saint-James and Neisson.

Two of the most ubiquitous rum cocktails on Martinique are Ti’Punch (pronounced “tee paunch”) and Planteur. Ti’Punch is a simple combination of rhum agricole, sugar syrup and lime while Planteur mixes rhum agricole with tropical fruit juices. I like to make a batch of simple syrup to keep in my fridge by combining ½ cup water with ½ cup sugar, and stirring over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. That way I’m ready to make a Ti’Punch whenever I feel homesick for the flavors of beautiful Martinique!

In a glass combine:
1 tablespoon simple syrup
4 tablespoons rhum agricole
1 slice of lime
1 small ice cube

In a glass combine:
4 tablespoons rhum agricole
4 tablespoons orange juice
4 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup
A pinch of ground cinnamon (or nutmeg or mace)

French Caribbean bars often have a big glass jar filled with pineapple chunks marinating in the dark rum agricole. These are delicious to add to a drink or to simply enjoy on their own.