When James O’Donnell visited Haiti, he was struck by a local form of hospitality. He tells how “Whenever you visit someone’s home…you are directed to their bar and told to mix yourself a ‘Ti Punch.’” As Lead Bartender of Chemin à la Mer at the Four Seasons Hotel, he offers a similar experience to his guests, though perhaps featuring a fancier set-up. Ti Punch is made with rhum agricole. Unlike molasses-based rums, agricole is crafted from cane juice, yielding unusual grassy flavors which shine in this drink. O’Donnell notes that each year’s product varies slightly and, just like terroir in wine, reflects changing rain and temperatures. Until recently, rhum agricole was produced only in the Caribbean, but now he is delighted to feature Louisiana-made agricole on his menu. O’Donnell’s tray of Ti Punch ingredients provides his guests the same welcome he once received, one as warm as the Caribbean sun.
- Ti Punch is an abbreviation of the French “petit” or little, indicating its individual portion rather than something mixed in a bowl.
- A Creole French saying in Haiti regarding Ti Punch preparation is Chacun prépare sa propre mort (“Each prepares their own death”), since the host provides ingredients but doesn’t mix the drink. Pour for yourself accordingly!
- Cut slivers of lime peel off before squeezing the wedges and rub the peel inside the glass to get all the flavor from the oils in the peel
2 ounces agricole rhum (Louisiana brands include Porch Jam and Oxbow)
1/4 ounce cane syrup
2-3 lime wedges
Start by squeezing the limes directly into the glass, run the wedges around the inside rim of the glass to express the essential oils from the peel. Add cane syrup and rhum, a few ice cubes and stir well.
This is a great starting point for Ti Punch, but add additional syrup and lime to individual preference.