View Full Version : I got them old "Sugar Cane Blues" again Mama
09-04-2010, 07:18 PM
Inspired by Hank and Tiare's passion for Rhum Agricole and their much favored "Ti Punch" in it's various forms, I recently ventured out from my usual molasses based sipping Rums to experience Rhum Agricole and the infamous "Ti Punch". From all I read here on the ministry, Neisson's Blanc was the preferred choice for a Ti Punch, followed closely by La Favorite. Neither of what I could find here locally. However, while at the BevMo nearby, I found a Depaz Rhum bonus pack that included both a bottle of the Rhum and pure cane syrup,... all on sale for $30. Such a deal. I remembered Depaz also having good reviews generally, so I picked up a pack and promptly whipped up a Ti Punch (per the recipe found on the Ministry) for myself and friends I had over for a BBQ. I brought my guests up to speed on the differences between Rhum Agricole and Rum and everyone seemed intrigued to try something new. But the look on the faces of my guests said it all. Mine too I'm afraid. I wanted to like the stuff, and I WAS expecting something different,... and got it. But I was expecting something pleasant, as were my guests. This was just plain nasty! I quickly collected up the unfinished drinks and went to the bullpen for the save,... pulling out the usual beverage suspects and restoring order.
Since the BBQ, I've been experimenting with the Ti Punch leftovers with not much success,... trying to find some pleasurable flavor blend to salvage the use of what is still a near full bottle of Rhum. But before I tuck my Rhum-tail between my legs and retreat back to the comfort of sipping Rums, my questions are ;
-Is Rhum Agricole generally an "acquired taste"?
-Is there a better entry level choice for Rhum Agricole other than Depaz?
09-04-2010, 09:26 PM
I'm sorry you were disappointed. First off, the Depaz Cane Syrup is more list molasses than the sugar cane syrup found and used on Martinique. The syrup you have is what is commonly used in cooking in Martinique and not the one used in cocktails, but the company that owns Depaz owns that syrup which was previously bottled as Dillon cane syrup and relabeled it Depaz syrup and sold it to Kobrand the US importer of Depaz.
Second, not all rhum agricole is created equally. Just as there are huge variations of white molasses based rums, think Bacardi white to El Dorado three year old cask aged rum, there are big differences in rhum agricole.
A ti punch is made exclusively with 100 proof white rhum agricole on Martinique. To make this drink with an old rum is called a punch vieux and although it can be made with an amber rum, I don't know that it has a specific name. The Depaz you have was diluted to 90 proof for the US market after their focus groups told Depaz that Americans wanted a 90 proof rhum aged rhum agricole. Personally, I think Kobrand would have been miles ahead if they had brought in Depaz as the wonderful white, 100 proof spirit that it is bottled at in Martinique.
Unlike the Depaz sugar cane syrup, the Depaz Blue Cane Rhum, though bottled at a higher proof in Martinique, is consumed in cocktails as opposed to being used in cooking.
Just as most people prefer a margarita made with white tequila, so that you get more flavor in the drink, in the French Islands, people drink rhum agricole blanc so they can taste the rhum, but the syrup you have is unfortunately not the syrup used in a ti punch. Some things just have to be done right.
Having said all this, and the ti punch is a combination of only three ingredients, it took me several months to perfect the combination even after spending almost every afternoon being served this drink at the tasting rooms of the distilleries. I've never seen anything so simple and yet so complex. The biggest mistake I usually made was using the wrong sugar, white sugar just doesn't work, and using too much sugar or lime. The sugar and lime are there to complement the rhum and not to cover up the taste of the spirit.
09-04-2010, 09:31 PM
Some of the BevMos used to carry Neisson Rhum Blanc but they dropped it due to inventory and budget constraints. If you ask for it there, it might come back, things change. At $20, Depaz Blue Cane Amber Rhum is a deal, put it on the back of your shelf for a while and try mixing it sparingly with some fresh juice like orange and a squeeze of lime to taste.
09-05-2010, 02:29 AM
Thanks for the info Ed. In lieu of the Depaz Cane Syrup that came with the Rhum, what would you suggest?..... and in what ratio?...... I've since tried many recipes including the one listed on Martinique's website which was way too sweet, besides the one listed in the recipe section and others found in various threads on the Ministry.
09-06-2010, 11:51 AM
It is always amazing to me that the recipes that call for sugar cane syrup call for way too much syrup or sugar. A ti punch made 4 to 1 is a good example. I use about a 1/4 tsp of sugar cane syrup to 1 1/2 oz of 100 proof rhum agricole.
As for a substitute for Martinique sugar cane syrup, I looked and tried every recipe from every bartender and chef I could find in the country and ended up importing Petite Canne Sugar Cane Syrup from Martinique.
09-06-2010, 02:31 PM
As usual on this topic, Ed has said it all. The only thing I would like to add is that I think you would have a much better experience with a white agricole at 100 proof and Petite Canne Syrup. The difference the syrup makes is huge!
09-08-2010, 12:49 AM
Ed's commentary always reminds me of my very first Ti-Punch in St. Pierre, Martinique. On a sunny late afternoon in November 1983, just days after the Grenada invasion, my cousin Carl and I strolled into the open air 1902 Bar nestled at the foot of Mount Pelee. We were intrigued by this picturesque little rhum bar and figured we would have a cocktail or two before dinner. Bernadette the proprietess looked at us curiously as we sat down at one of the 3 tables vying for space under the colorful awning and respite from the sun. We spoke little French and she spoke no English, so like a couple of new born chickadees we sang out in unexpected unison, "Cocktails se vous plait! She smiled backed and reached for a square bottle of Neisson Blanc residing on the top shelf behind her. Before the packed little bar, she made an unambiguous display of cracking the seal on the new bottle of her best as she prepared a tray with glasses, raw sugar & lime. She then handed the tray to her bar man Mr. Monci, a gentleman in his late 70's to bring to us. He turned and glided three steps to our table and placed the tray down between us. We looked up at him a bit puzzled and then over at Bernadette. She said one word, with an flamboyant wave of her hand, Ti-pooonch! Mr. Monci without hesitation, placed a dash of the raw sugar, a squeeze of lime and two fingers of the rhum in each glass then stood back as we reached for his creation. Carl and I looked at each other and took the first sip. The sweet fire of the rhum went down our throats like molten gold carving a path to our innards and eternities. The burn was quickly replaced by the rich fragrance and bouquet of this amazing libation and the moment. A cocktail soon became an evening as we sat their till closing and one dead Neisson soldier. We had made friends for life and memories we would never forget. The next day, we drove down the road to the little village of Carbet in search of the Neisson Distillery to stock up on some of this amazing juice to take back home, however as fate would have it, we made a wrong turn and ended up at Rhum Bally where all of our rhum dreams were answered until the next deja vu.
02-08-2011, 06:33 PM
I haven´t had a Ti Punch in a long time but after reading all this i`m now thirsty for one.
I have a different rhuim agricole here, its from french Guyana, labeled La Belle Cabresse and i really like it and it makes for a nice Ti Punch. The flavor profile is maybe somewhat grassy in a bit of a different way than those from Martinique.
I agree on the proportions but also do not forget that taste is personal so my advice is as always, taste your way - just make sure to use premium ingredients. I can assure that Petit Canne is the no 1 syrup on this planet.
When i`m out i make my own with a golden raw sugar that is somewhat similar in flavor - just because i don´t want any other syrup than Petit Canne, but if i`m out then, well i need to try to make something as similar as possible.
Try to find La Neisson or La Favorite or other premium blanc, Petit Canne syrup and a fresh nice juicy lime and taste your way.
And yes, i believe rhum agricole is little bit of an aquired taste but with the right rum its easy to get to like.
02-08-2011, 09:07 PM
As you can imagine there are connections between the distillers and Martinique and those in French Guyana. In Martinique, French Guyana rhum agricole isn't highly regarded but we all tend to like what we're used to drinking. It's 6pm now and I'm ready for a ti punch myself, so excuse me for a few minutes.
02-09-2011, 01:46 AM
All this talk of rhum has forced my hand to make a ti-poonch nite cap. And while Neissen Blanc is my nostalgic favorite I typically save that to share, so tonight I am making my cocktail with Clement Premiere Canne a fine 80 proof specimen perhaps with not all of the panache of the 100 proof Neissen or Rhum J.M but fine full flavor nonetheless and 25% cheaper. I know these two rhums intimately because I help Ben Jones, the National Brand Ambassador for these two spirits with tastings regularly. The Clement blows away the Depaz in a heart beat but plays second fiddle to the much more refined J.M which is probably second only to Neissen in the upper echelon of blanc rhum agricoles. Now concerning the discerning cane syrup I recommend Sirop J.M the near perfect compliment to any ti-poonch or cocktail. This pure viscous sucre de canne gold oozes the essence of the Martiniquian terroir and the beauty of its people. Tomorrow night I will treat myself to the superb J.M Blanc and so it goes.
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