Festive Jamaican Rum Punch

Most of you know that we adulate the DeKalb Farmer’s Market. The huge market opened its 140,000-square-foot Decatur location just a few months before Dom and I met, and it was one of the first places we went together when we were dating. As we have reiterated in other posts, we truly enjoy trying and experimenting with new and exotic ingredients and the market offers plenty of opportunities for exploration.

So when Dom brought home a mysterious bag of “sorrel flowers,” I was hardly surprised. A little research revealed that they were actually the dried sepals and calyxes of the roselle plant, a species of Hibiscus native to the tropics. They are prepared by boiling in water until the water turns red and adding sugar.  In Jamaica, the tea is also infused with ginger and clove and then mixed with rum to make a festive punch which is very popular at Christmas time. Other variations made with fresh fruits, juices, or extracts are used to make aguas frescas commonly consumed in Mexico, and Central and South America.

  • 1½ cups roselle calyxes 
  • 2” piece fresh gingerroot, grated
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups light or amber rum
  • 8 teaspoons marmalade
  • lime slices for garnish

Comb through the flower calyxes to remove any that are damaged or spoiled. In a heatproof bowl, combine the calyxes, ginger, and cloves and pour 5 cups of boiling water over them. Let the mixture steep for 4 hours (or overnight).

While the mixture is steeping, make a simple syrup by bringing the remaining cup of water and the sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and let the syrup cool. Strain the roselle liquid into a pitcher, discarding the solids, and stir in the simple syrup.

To serve, place 1 teaspoon of marmalade, 1 ½ ounces of rum, and ¾ cup of roselle tea in a 12-ounce glass and stir. Add crushed ice to fill and garnish the punch with the lime slices.