Why You Need to Know the History of Planter’s Punch

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Why You Need to Know the History of Planter's Punch www.compassandfork.comToday we are featuring a famous drink, Planter’s Punch, with an interesting history which “hails” from the South.

When I think of Planter’s Punch, I immediately think of warm weather, plantations, parties, fresh juices and rum. I can just imagine sitting down towards the end of the day in a comfortable chair on a shady balcony with a beautiful view and relaxing, with Planter’s Punch in hand. Bliss.

Little did I know, that my interest would be piqued because of my visit to Charleston on hearing the stories and history of Planter’s Punch.

Prior to the civil war, there was no shortage of money in Charleston and most nearby plantation owners owned houses in Charleston (some just stayed in hotels) to spend the summer months (malaria season) in relative comfort, rather than out at the plantation.

Reputed to be the invention of the Planters Hotel and having just visited some of those magnificent old plantations, one could just imagine plantation owners sipping on their Planter’s Punch at the next social engagement.

And having observed on this trip, the very good manners of Charleston’s citizens, I couldn’t help thinking what an appropriate drink Planter’s Punch is for these folks in this climate. So, what is the history of Planter’s Punch and why did it make such an impact in Charleston?

Good Manners in Charleston and The History of Planter’s Punch

Why You Need to Know the History of Planter's Punch www.compassandfork.comBefore addressing that question, let’s just remind ourselves about the circumstances in which Charleston was settled.


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Charleston was settled by people escaping religious persecution from Europe. Many of the very earliest settlers were English and from the most upper of classes. Indeed, Charleston is named after King Charles II, who regained the English throne after the death of Oliver Cromwell, who had earlier driven out Charles II.

As a thank you to eight loyal friends who assisted in him recapturing the throne, he granted rights to large tracts of land in the American colonies and without going into detail, Charleston was born. Some of these loyal friends already owned sugar plantations in the West Indies.

From the outset, Charleston developed with a tolerance for all religions, which was based on mutual respect. Well off families even had the family pew to kneel and sit on! Plantations brought great wealth to Charleston and there was no shortage of money, good living and good manners.

Why You Need to Know the History of Planter's Punch www.compassandfork.comWhen visiting Charleston today, you can’t help but observe the great charm and manners exhibited by the locals. In a world that seems to have forgotten the importance of courtesy and respect, visiting Charleston is indeed a refreshing change.

And if you think this is all just a show of false pretense then you need to think again. Southern hospitality and charm is alive and well and it extends right throughout the areas we visited in the Carolinas and Georgia.

Indeed, when visiting relatives in South Carolina, I was almost bowled over by the number of times young men (many still in their ‘teens) addressed my wife as “Miss Beth”. And again, just walking down the street, complete (male) strangers would acknowledge her with a, “Morning Ma’am”.

What a pleasant surprise!

So, it is easy to imagine plantation owners sipping a Planter’s Punch to celebrate Charleston’s great alcoholic drink gift to the world. Unfortunately, it is not true.

Why You Need to Know the History of Planters Punch www.compassandfork.comIndeed, Charleston’s own newspaper debunks this urban myth and makes the argument that Jamaica is the home of Planter’s Punch. A minor letdown but I’m not one for the truth to get in the way of a good story.

Enough of the history, now about that Planter’s Punch….

How to Make Planter’s Punch

There are literally hundreds of recipes for Planter’s Punch. All you need is some dark or light rum (or both) sweet juices, sour juices, simple syrup, grenadine and some Angostura bitters (optional). A cocktail shaker is handy but not mandatory and some ice (lots of it).

If you can, freshly squeezed juice is best.

Why You Need to Know the History of Planter's Punch
Why You Need to Know the History of Planter's Punch
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This is a great drink for a warm climate. Freshly squeezed juice is refreshing. If you can, garnish the drink with some fruit pieces. Mint also makes a great garnish.
Servings Prep Time
1drink 3minutes
Servings Prep Time
1drink 3minutes
Ingredients
Servings: drink
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Ingredients
Servings: drink
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Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients except the Angostura bitters, into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously until well combined.
  3. Pour into a glass filled with ice. If using, add a couple of drops of Angostura bitters. Garnish with fruit wedges and/or mint.Why You Need to Know the History of Planters Punch www.compassandfork.com

12 Responses

  1. Christine
    | Reply

    Super interesting post and the drink sounds delicious, too!

    • Editor
      |

      Food history is such an interesting topic for me. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Boastful Food
    | Reply

    Great history and cocktail! This is one drink I could see myself enjoying on those sweltering, summer evenings in the South:)

    • Editor
      |

      The juices are refreshing especially if you can manage the freshly squeezed. And those junks of fruit are rather delicious.

  3. Cindy Gordon
    | Reply

    I’ve never been to Charleston and I’ve never had planters punch. I think I need to change both of those things! Can’t wait!

    • Editor
      |

      What a lovely place Charleston is. Full of history, beautiful architecture and rather good manners I have to say.

  4. Willow | Will Cook For Friends
    | Reply

    This is going to sound crazy, but I had never even heard of planters punch before! It sounds delicious with the fresh citrus juices and rum. Thanks for sharing a bit about the history — I love learning the stories behind a recipe!

    • Editor
      |

      Nothing crazy about that. I think the heyday for Planter’s Punch was some decades ago. But it is great to see a resurgence on an old classic.

  5. Raia Todd
    | Reply

    Sounds like a delicious drink! I love all the citrus.

    • Editor
      |

      That citrus is so good in the warmer and more humid climates. A great offset to the rum.

  6. Janette@CulinaryGinger.com
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for the great write-up and so informative. Now I need to try this delicious punch.

    • Editor
      |

      Yes I must admit I find the history of food and drink a rather fascinating subject.

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