Another take on a Caribbean classic
GRAND CASE — There is another way to make a Ti’ Punch, the simplest, purest, greatest cocktail in the West Indies.
The usual way is with brown sugar, lime and rhum agricole blanc. Or, perhaps simple syrup in lieu of the sugar.
But Philippe Auger, who has managed the bar at the Grand Case Beach Club’s Sunset Cafe for nearly a decade, is plying patrons with an even sweeter version.
You see Philippe’s wife is Martinican, and for her and her close confidants, the ti’ punch has a substitute: pure honey.
Philippe makes one for me, twisting the drink to stir it the way a ti’ punch should be made.
I try it. It is superb. Certainly, sweeter than the typical one. But also truer, in some way. The sweetness reminds that what I am drinking is a tribute to sugar cane and its component parts. A tribute to something sweet.
While the ti’ punch is popular in the Collectivité of St Martin, there are not as many partisans of the drink as in the French departments of Martnique and Guadeloupe. And fewer tourists drink it.
But the latter is something Philippe is trying to change, for the last two years trying to get visitors to Sunset and the Grand Case Beach Club to taste something truly French Caribbean.
It’s not always an easy sell, but once they try it they understand.
“It’s not known yet,” Auger says of the cocktail. “At the beginning they’re afraid of the 50 [percent alcohol]. But when they start to drink it, they enjoy it.”
And Auger’s push is beyond ti’ punch. He’s now adding the quintessentially French rhum agricole to a classic Caribbean rum punch.
That finds itself in a seriously good rum punch that includes Trois Rivieres white rhum, Myers’s dark rum, pineapple, mango and orange juice.
Both cocktails are terrific, and it won’t be long before patrons ask for both by name at the Grand Case Beach Club.
“While you’re in the Caribbean, it’s nice to drink something very, very local,” Auger says, stirring another ti’ punch.