This past January, the hotel that Dwight works at, Rosewood Little Dix Bay, celebrated their 50th anniversary. As you can imagine, for an island with a population of three to four thousand people, this was a big deal. A lot of people, ranging from journalists to frequent hotel guests to owners of the hotel to the BVI government representatives came from all over the world for this very special day. The hotel staff and its leaders did an incredible job making sure that this would be a night to remember for everyone who were invited. Needless to say, we were honored to be a part of such an important milestone for this community.
After the dinner, towards the end of the evening while we were all waiting for the fire works, I saw a group of people gathering around a drink station on the corner, away from the large crowd. Come to find out, it was a rum tasting station.
Until that night, my experience with rum had never been more than a mojito, a pina colada, or the infamous rum punch, that you would most likely be served as soon as you set foot in the Caribbean. I drank it, but didn’t know much about it. However, later I realized, on that evening we were in for a treat. They were serving the best quality of rum from countries throughout the Caribbean and Central America. With the help of people who were already enjoying a shot, I started my first rum tasting experience with a shot of the Guatemalan Ron Zacapa Centenario XO. It was the smoothest taste that one could imagine. After that, I tried the Flor de Caña (18 year old) from Nicaragua. Before you know it, I had 4 glasses of some of the best rum produced in the world. The best part of it was that since we were enjoying an evening out in the open by the beach, it brought me to a very happy place without actually getting drunk. Since that evening, it became a tradition in our house to treat ourselves every once in a while with a shot of good quality rum after dinner.
I have been thinking about sharing the recipe of the Caribbean rum punch for a while now. However, I did not think that there is anything exciting about the way that they usually serve it in restaurants here on Virgin Gorda. Because, if you think about it, who needs a recipe for mixing boxed fruit juice with inexpensive rum?
About this Cranberry and Mint Rum Punch Recipe:
I wanted a rum punch recipe that truly takes it up a notch. Also, be appropriate for the season. That is when I decided to use the fresh cranberries I had in the fridge. But for my kind of rum punch, I decided to use a good quality rum, such as Flor de Caña. The idea was making a quick cranberry juice and mixing it with freshly squeezed lime juice and rum. Though it looked pretty, it needed some color. That is why, at the last minute, I added fresh mint leaves to both enhance the flavor and give it a nice contrast of color making it a perfect drink for the holidays.
How To Make It:
To make this incredibly delicious drink, I started with bringing water, sugar, and fresh cranberries to a boil, and cooked it until the sugar was dissolved. Then I strained it to a pitcher and set aside. As it was cooling, I squeezed the juice of 5 limes and muddled a half a cup of fresh mint leaves with some sugar until they were bruised and the juices of mint leaves were extracted as much as possible.
I added the lime juice and the now-bruised mint leaves into the pitcher. I stirred in a cup and a half of Flor de Caña (18 years old) and placed it in the fridge for it to cool. After an hour in the fridge, I strained it over a fine mesh strainer into a big pitcher. When I was ready to serve, I filled up a couple of tall glasses with ice and poured the drink over it. To garnish it, I put a couple of cranberries and fresh mint leaves on top.
As you can see in the pictures, it not only looked very festive, but also ended up being a perfect Caribbean style holiday drink that I will be making in the years to come.
Cranberry and Mint Rum Punch
- 2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries picked over and washed
- 2 1/2 cups of water
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves washed and dried – plus more for garnishing
- 1/2 cup lime juice freshly squeezed from 4-5 limes
- 1 1/2 cup rum such as Flor de Cana
- Place the cranberries, water, and 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Stirring regularly, bring it to a boil, and then, let it simmer for 10 minutes or until the granulated sugar completely dissolves. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
- In the mean time, place fresh mint leaves and 3 tablespoons in a measuring cup. Mash it with a muddler until mint leaves are completely bruised and sugar is dissolved.
- Strain the cranberry syrup into a pitcher. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cranberries for garnishing, for later.
- Add the lime juice, rum, and mint in to the pitcher. Stir it until they are all mixed.
- Strain the mixture through a medium mash strainer pressing gently to make sure you get all the juices out of the mint leaves.
- Pour it over tall glasses filled with ice cubes, and garnish each glass with fresh mint leaves and reserved cranberries.