Thursday, January 06, 2011

Planter's Punch: the History--In Verse

The Charleston City Paper just ran a piece I did on the history of Planter's Punch, for which I turned up some new historical material that I've never seen anyone else discuss.

It is often claimed that Planter's Punch was created right here in Charleston. The potent concoction of rum, sugar, and citrus was the specialty of the house at the Planters Hotel in the 19th century, and it went on from there to gain national fame. Or so the story goes. Unfortunately, it's not true.
The Planters Hotel was indeed a famous antebellum establishment. It opened in 1809, when Alexander Calder converted the old Dock Street Theatre into a hotel, and it became the favorite resort for rice planters when they came into the city for the winter. The hotel was well known for its imbibing clientèle: a British visitor who stayed there in the 1830s noted that during dinner "very little wine is drank, and rather too much brandy." But there's not a shred of evidence that its bar ever served a beverage called Planter's Punch. That association seems to have been made in recent years based solely on the name of the hotel itself. 

See the City Paper for the whole story. 

I managed to turn up not just a couple of old Planter's Punch recipes but old recipes in verse!  


NMissC said...

Nice article.

I make a gigantic batch (e.g. 3 3/4 quarts of three juices, 2 quarts + 1.5 cups three rums, home-made grenadine, some simple syrup, and a little cayenne. Yes, cayenne) of planters punch for a street festival in Oxford every Spring, which becomes the center of a lawn party in front of my office. Full recipe and comments are on my blog. The most recent batch, I squeezed something like 180 limes because as near as I can tell, there is no decent bottled lime juice.

Robert said...

I'm going to have to try the cayenne . . . everytime I have a cocktail with something unexpected like that, it turns out to be magnificent. And, amen on the lime juice. You simply cannot buy it bottled, yet it seems to keep for weeks in my fridge after I squeeze it fresh--why is that?

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