Drinkies V: Ti-Ponche

Petit-Ponche, Ti-Ponche, ‘tit Ponche, whatever …

This is more of a chemistry set than a cocktail. The one constant is 2oz rum. Less if you want to consume a smaller amount of alcohol but everything is relative to the rum.

Even that’s not accurate because all you do is arrange the ingredients on a table, sit down preferably with friends, preferably in the sunshine listening to the ocean (but you can’t have everything), the rum is compulsory but it’s pick and mix with the rest.

The crucial ingredients: rum, simple syrup, lime and something to prod the lime with.
Optional ingredients: water, ice.

As you might have noticed it has a French name and I should have been saying “rhum” not “rum” because Martinique rhum is the stuff and our rhum of choice is Dillon 55 proof. Yes it’s got strength but also Martinique rhum has a distinctly different taste to the rums from what were the Btitish Caribbean islands. I had my first ti-ponche in France lots of years ago in a short-lived Caribbean restaurant in Arcachon and I have always associated it with France.

Careful though, the French think they are top dogs in culinary matters but this makes them complacent – had some real approximations when it comes to cocktails – lime cordial in ti-ponche?

Our problem is getting hold of Dillon (or any strong Martinique rhums). France is awash with the stuff but right now Europe is awash with Covid. Because we don’t drive we don’t bring wine back from France. We bring 1 litre Dillon and 1 litre Ricard in strong plastic bottles in our hold luggage. Been a year since the last trip …

So, all-in-all, this is a bit of a fraudulent post. Not only has the bottle been refilled several times but there’s only a couple of inches left and the rum in the glass is actually Havana Club. Can’t waste the good stuff for a photo shoot (or should that be photo shot?).

To business. First make your Simple Syrup which is basically roughly half-and-half sugar and water simmered, cooled and bottled. Kenneth Gardinier “Creole Caribbean Cookery” is always to hand on the kitchen shelf. It is battered and brown from age and use and held together with sellotape. He gives two versions, what you might call simple Simple Syrup which is 450g granulated sugar + 425g water brought to the boil and simmered for about 6 minutes, and slightly-less-simple Simple Syrup. This is 450g light brown cane sugar brought to the boil with 570g water and then simmered for 10 minutes with an inch of cinnamon stick and the peel of a lime. Better do this the day before because sugar takes its time in cooling.

So, music – The Jolly Boys. Make yourself comfortable, pour yourself a measure of rhum, add a small amount of Simple (you can always put more in but you can’t take it out), give your lime a good prod, and sip. Then, the bottle’s on the table, spend the rest of the afternoon worrying your lime and making adjustments. Ice? No ice? Water? No water? …

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