Jamaican Rum Punch

published Jun 14, 2024
Juneteenth
Jamaican Rum Punch Recipe

This celebratory Jamaican drink will convince you that you’re the best dancer at the party.

Serves8

Makes10 cups

Prep20 minutes to 25 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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head shot of jamaican rum punch in a pitcher, with two glasses full of punch in front of it, garnished with a maraschino cherry and lime wedge.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: Olushola Wadley

Rum punch is the celebratory Jamaican drink that graces every party, wedding, funeral, get-together, and large family dinner. When I was growing up, I saw the bright-red punch being poured at many gatherings; the other kids and I would eagerly wait to see who the “spirits” would overcome first. This often led to hilarious moments of mindless and erratic dancing, ensuring that everyone truly gets to party.

The drink has a long history and is believed to have been invented on the island by Wray and Nephew rum as early as 1985. Originally called the Sugar Wray Rum Punch, it featured Jamaican white rum, Jamaican fruit juices, allspice, and nutmeg. However, even before this version, there was Planters Punch from the 1930s, made following the rhyme of “1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, 3 parts strong, and 4 parts weak.” The sour was lime juice, the sweet was sugar or sugar syrup, the strong was Myers’ Fine Old Jamaican Rum, and the weak was water. That same recipe is still used today. Nevertheless, over time, the drink evolved to include imitation strawberry syrup, pineapple juice, bitter lemon or Angostura bitters, spices, and the much stronger overproof rum. More sophisticated and less potent versions can be made with aged dark rum, which is smoother on the palate.

This Juneteenth, I am proud to celebrate the beauty and long history of this drink. Jamaican rum is, of course, a product of our long colonial history, and Planters Punch was created to keep Jamaican plantation workers “cool” during their arduous days of work. The drink has come a long way from plantation cooler to party must-have. It’s special because it incorporates so much of what is uniquely ours — pimento (also known as allspice), nutmeg, pure fruit juice, and rum. It truly sets the tone for every family gathering, and promises that it will definitely be a good night.

Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: Olushola Wadley

Why You’ll Love It

  • Everyone can enjoy this festive cocktail with minimal effort and skill. Most of the “work” comes from slicing and juicing the fruit. The rest of the drink comes together quickly in a pitcher. 
  • It’s affordable to make and deceptively strong. All you need is some citrus fruit, pineapple juice, store-bought strawberry syrup, spices, and overproof rum, which cleverly masks the drink’s sweetness. 

This is part of Family Legends, celebrating Juneteenth favorites that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Jamaican Rum Punch Recipe

This celebratory Jamaican drink will convince you that you’re the best dancer at the party.

Prep time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Makes 10 cups

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium orange

  • 3 to 4

    medium limes

  • 4 cups

    water

  • 2 cups

    100% pineapple juice

  • 2 cups

    Jamaican white rum, such as Wray & Nephew

  • 1 1/2 cups

    Grace Strawberry Flavored Syrup

  • 10

    allspice berries

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    grated nutmeg

  • Ice

  • Garnish options: Lime wedges, fresh mint, and/or maraschino cherries

Instructions

  1. Trim and slice 1 medium orange into rounds and place in a 3-quart or larger pitcher, jar, or bowl.

  2. Juice 3 to 4 medium limes until you have 1/2 cup. Add the lime juice, 4 cups water, 2 cups pineapple juice, 2 cups white rum, 1 1/2 cups Grace Strawberry Flavored Syrup, 10 allspice berries, and 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg to the pitcher and stir to combine.

  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Serve over lots of ice, and garnish with lime wedges, fresh mint, and/or maraschino cherries if desired.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions:

  • Substitute the rum with Myer’s Dark Rum or Appleton Estate Aged Dark Rum.
  • Substitute the strawberry syrup with Rose’s Grenadine Syrup.

Make ahead: This is a great drink to make a day ahead or the night before serving. The longer it sits, the better it is.

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 2 days.