There are mixing rums and there are sipping rums. Some…
Despite its rather authoritative name, the Imperial Punch doesn’t have a royal history. The drink is inspired by one that I had at The Rum House, a rum-centric bar located just off Times Square in New York City. New York is a city that is rather notorious for its inability to hang on to its tiki bars, but there are more than a few tiki drinks out there just waiting for you to pick them up.
The Rum House has, as you might suspect, a wide range of rums to choose from and plenty of non-tiki rum drinks on their menu. But you can’t have a rum bar without a little tiki and the Imperial Punch is a great example. Their drink is made with El Dorado white rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, cinnamon syrup and aromatic bitters, then topped with a Meyers Dark Rum float. It’s simple and delicious – and its simplicity means that this is a drink that is easy to make at home and a great choice for entertaining, when you need to mix up many drinks in a short period of time.
You can taste both the sweet pineapple and the sour lime in the drink, along with the warm spice of both the cinnamon syrup and the Angostura bitters. We used El Dorado white rum, just like the original, but also found that Angostura and Flor de Cana white rums worked well, bringing a subtle sugar flavor and a smooth finish to the cocktail. Our version of this punch skips the dark rum float, which is not a bad addition to the drink, but clouds the subtle spiciness that the bitters bring in. If you want to add in a float, we actually prefer a 151 to dark rum, though we still enjoy the drink alone. Our cinnamon syrup is made exactly the same way as our spiced simple syrup, but with a lot more cinnamon. It’s a great staple syrup to have on hand because it brings a lot of flavor to every drink you use it in and it can be used in coffee and tea, as well as tiki.
1 3/4 oz white rum (such as El Dorado or Angostura)
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz cinnamon syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
optional: 1/2 oz dark rum float
Fill a tall rocks glass with crushed ice. Combine all ingredients in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until well-chilled, 20-30 seconds. Strain into prepared glass. If desired, top with dark rum float.
Cinnamon Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water and two 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Allow syrup to cool completely and store for at least 24 hours before using to allow the cinnamon flavor to infuse into the syrup.