Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ti' Punch Tales


I was almost knocked out in Martinique. Not in a brawl but by the heady power of the national drink, ti' punch. A deceptively simple mixture of cane syrup, rhum and lime, ti'punch is not so much a cocktail as a way of life. There was no part of the island, no time of day, where I didn't see the telltale bottle of rhum lined up with syrup, lime and an empty glass. This is a drink so singular that locals prepare their own versions at bars and restaurants. I watched countless mixers until I dared try a version whipped up by Steve, Uncommon Caribbean's rhum connoisseur. The pure strength of the rhum burned my throat and threw me off balance. They don't say,  "chacun pre'pare sa propre mort" or "each prepares their own death" while making ti'punch for nothing.


I discovered that the type of rhum used depends on your location on the island, with different areas pledging loyalty to the local distillery. Martinque rhum (that's not a typo that's the elegant French spelling) isn't distilled from molasses like other rums, but from sugar cane juice, for a more distinct flavor and aroma. It also depends on if you use rhum blanc or vieux, with blanc traditionally downed early in the day and vieux in the evening. Of course, ice is frowned upon, least it water down the potency. I never learned to mix my own ti'punch or even to drink an entire glass while I was in Martinique but I watched lots of mixing. I appreciate the devotion and skill that goes into its creation and I think the drink reflects Martinique's refined Caribbean sensibilities. The video below shows a ti'punch concoction shaken up  and served while  I visited Ilet Oscar, off the coast of Martinique.




8 comments:

Andrew said...

Very interesting that there are these local variations and the loyalty to them. A "must try", then -- but obviously in moderation!

Fly Girl said...

Andrew, some visitors have ti' punch every day in different locations but I'm light weight. I think it's interesting that it's a few ingredients with so many variations.

TexWisGirl said...

the mix of alcohol and sugars would really knock you out! i can imagine!

Fly Girl said...

Tex, Yes indeed!

A Cuban In London said...

What a lot of people don't know is how much alcohol sugar can absorb and then release in your body after consumption. Once upon a time I used to drin alcohol and one o fmy favourite drinks was Guayabita del Pinar (google it up). There are two versions, sweet and dry. I always went for the former and it knocked me out quite easily. My mates went for the dry one and were still standing after downing a bottle (shared amongst many like mine, by the way, I was never an alcoholic :-D). This drinks sounds like Guayabita.

Nice post. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano,
I'm a very light drinker for a good reason.I can't take most hard liquor but rum is my favorite in moderation. I knew you'd have some idea about this!

Indrani said...

There should a 'caution' marked then. :)

Fly Girl said...

Indrani, Ha! You're right.