Rum from the French overseas territories – raising the flag for “ti-punch”21-02-2018
French rum is very much in vogue. And to spare you the journey to sunnier climes, we’ve done all the hard work for you. So read on to discover all there is to know about rum for when you might need it.
French rum originated in the French-colonised islands of the Caribbean. Before setting off to America on his second voyage of discovery, Christopher Columbus filled his boat with sugar cane from the Canary Islands. The first rum originated from sugar cane. Considered as poor man’s alcohol, over the years it has gradually risen through the ranks to become a highly sought-after quality spirit. What differentiates French Caribbean rum, known commonly as rhum agricole, is that it is produced by fermenting and distilling sugar cane. While traditional rum, or “Demerara rum”, is made from molasses, and found nearer Reunion Island. Overlooked for many years in favour of industrial rum, French rhum is seeing quite a comeback in bars around the globe. It stars as an excellent cocktail ingredient.
Ti-punch – the most famous rum of all
There are various rum-based drinks to choose from, such as Planteur (planter’s punch) or rhum arrangé, which is infused rum from the French Caribbean. But by far the most popular among French rum aficionados is ti-Punch. Legend has it that workers cutting the sugar cane harvest – no mean feat – would break for a nip of rum. First they would take a small “mise a feu”, or fiery nip, before breakfast. At 9am, “rum o’clock”, and time for a “sec” (neat rum), or “feu” (fire), rum served with lemon zest and thirteen grains of sugar. Finally, at midday, the workers would have a Ti-punch, the shortened form of “petit Punch”, or “little punch”, which was traditionally consumed in three gulps.
The original Ti-Punch recipe
The traditional recipe still exists and included here for you to try at home…
In a small tumbler, add a squeeze of lime, a teaspoon of cane sugar syrup. Mix well to obtain a brown syrup. Add 5cl of rhum agricole, which essentially is the only rum that will do in this instance, stir and taste. Rhum agricole must feature on the bottle. Do NOT add ice –true rum purists would never forgive you.
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