The history of punch is long and complex, with different areas of the world having produced their own takes on what would eventually be called punch. According to cocktail historian and writer David Wondrich—whose book “Punch, The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl” investigates the history of the drink—punch began as a beverage enjoyed by British sailors. Originally, it was made with arrack, a rum from South Asia made with sugarcane or fermented coconut sugar. Sweetener, citrus juice, spices, and water were also added to the concoction.
In time, the recipe evolved into a whole range of drinks, though the general format remained—usually a dark spirit like rum, brandy or whiskey is mixed with citrus or other fruit juices, some kind of sweetener, often a wine and sometimes tea. The Port Royal Punch, on the other hand, borrows from the modern idea of a “fruit punch,” as it uses a considerable amount of juice. And rather than, say, sparkling wine, its carbonation comes from that ubiquitous citrus soda: Sprite. A bit of grenadine makes the punch even sweeter, though using a homemade grenadine will keep it from being too cloying.
Unlike a recipe from Wondrich’s book on punch, the Port Royal would be more likely found at a college party or a club than it would be on the bar of a cocktail lounge. Spiced rum, pineapple and mango juice, Sprite and grenadine are uncommon in modern craft cocktails. However, if you’re hosting a party for friends who like a sweet drink, one that hides its alcoholic content amongst fruit juices and sodas, and one you’re more in danger of contracting a sugar high over than getting too drunk from, then it’s sure to be a party pleaser.
One of the key aspects to punch is its presentation, and the most obvious element is the punch bowl itself. These days, it’s easy to find ornate examples both online and at vintage shops. While you can use a regular mixing bowl, besides its underwhelming appearance compared to an ornate vessel, it’s difficult to find one that accommodates the volume of the Port Royal Punch. The other alternative is a large pitcher, and again, it’s an opportunity to get ornate.
The other key ingredient for both presentation and flavor is ice. There’s always bagged ice from convenience stores, but in order to take it to the next level visually, and to keep the punch from getting diluted soon after serving, try freezing a massive ice cube using a large storage container or a mixing bowl. That will ensure much slower melting, and give the punch bowl a nicer look.
1 750-milliliter bottle Captain Morgan spiced rum
96 ounces pineapple juice
24 ounces mango juice
12 ounces Sprite
4 1/2 ounces grenadine
3 oranges, sliced thinly and quartered
Combine the spiced rum, pineapple juice, mango juice, Sprite, grenadine and orange slices in a punch bowl and stir to combine.
Serve in punch glasses filled with ice.