Bitters: Rupert’s Rum Punch

Explore and cook with the bountiful benefits of bitter herbs.

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When I visited Jamaica many years ago, I stayed at a memorable place called Scotch on the Rocks. The house came with a cook named Wilby, and her husband, Rupert, took care of the garden and made a batch of this rum punch every day. While teaching me how to prepare this libation, he told me this is a medicinal drink and that using the bitters would prevent a hangover. So far it has worked.

Using Wray & Nephew 126 Overproof Rum gives this drink a special flavor. It is unlike any rum I have ever tasted, and it’s worthwhile to seek it out — I ask my local liquor store to order it for me. You can substitute any other overproof rum or a good-quality dark rum. At first taste, the bitters seem heavy, but the flavors will mellow on the palate after a few sips; if you are new to bitters, perhaps you should use about half the amount called for. You always can add a few more drops. Fresh fruit gives the best flavor, but you also can use orange juice and limeade made from frozen concentrate.

  • 2½ cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 2½ cups fresh limeade
  • 1¼ cups overproof rum
  • ¼ cup Grenadine
  • 20 to 24 shakes Angostura bitters
  • 6 to 8 halved lime slices
  • Ice cubes
  • Soda water, optional
  1. In a large pitcher, combine orange juice, limeade, rum and Grenadine and stir well. Shake in the lesser amount of bitters, stir well and taste.
  2. Add the rest of the bitters, if desired. Refrigerate the punch until ready to serve. It can be made in the morning and refrigerated all day.
  3. Fill pretty glasses with ice, pour the rum punch over the ice and garnish the glass with a slice of lime.Add a splash of soda water to each glass, if desired, and stir. Serve immediately and think of the sun setting over the Caribbean.


Art Tucker, Ph.D., botanist at Delaware State University, is  the co-author of The Big Book of Herbs (Interweave, 2000). Susan Belsinger is a culinary herbalist, food writer and photographer who has co-authored several cookbooks and writes for many national magazines.

Click here for the original article, Bitters: Beverages with Moxie.