Puka Punch

Puka Punch

I haven’t discussed, let alone imbibed, nearly anything this summer that didn’t contain copious amounts of rum. Tiki culture, and its cocktails specifically, have seduced me to the point of no return. Saying that, I have no intention of turning Kaiser Penguin into a tiki-only blog, as I’m sure the first brisk winds of Autumn will summon up hibernating desires for scotch, cognac, and other various spirits that make drinks to warm the soul and tease the palette. But, the season of pumpkins and cider is still far off, so I’ll be sharing with you what may be my favorite tiki drink to date.

Puka Punch

  • 1oz lime juice
  • 1oz light Puerto Rican rum
  • 1oz Dark West Indies rum (I used Bacardi 8 year)
  • 3/4oz Myer’s rum (I used Gosling’s Bermuda Black)
  • 3/4oz orange juice
  • 3/4oz pineapple juice
  • 3/4oz passion fruit syrup
  • 3/4oz honey
  • 1/4oz falernum
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 3/4oz 151 Demerara rum

Heat honey until liquid and mix with the lime juice. Blend with 8oz of crushed ice and the rest of the ingredients, except the Demerara rum. Pour into a fun glass, fill with crushed ice, and float the 151 Demerara rum on top.

Source: Intoxica! Jeff Berry


I feel like I keep writing the same thing time and again, “All the ingredients come together to form some new magical concoction that has hints of each of the ingredients yet creates something entirely new.” And it’s not a mistake that similar descriptions keep appearing. Though, there are a few unique things about the Puka Punch…

  • Honey is really a beautiful sweetener, and if you can find a beekeeper who sells his goods at a local farmers market, snatch it and use that.
  • Any recipe that includes the following sentence deserves a prize: “Float the 151 Demerara rum on top of the drink.” The rum just slowly works its way through the drink as you sip and imparts its flavor in a way that wouldn’t be possible if it were blended in.
  • Even the small amount of falernum (though I pour a bit heavy with homemade syrups) brings out so many interesting flavors like ginger, cloves, and lime while balancing the sweetness of the drink.


In general, I find garnishes to be pretty boring. In fact, I usually only use them when I’m working on a picture for Kaiser Penguin. Don’t get me wrong, the aroma of mint and the oil of a lemon peel are important and always included, but does the drink really need pineapple and orange wedges and a cherry? I’d be very interested to hear if you take the time to garnish each drink to spec, or if you just drop a straw in and have at it.

19 Responses to “Puka Punch”

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19 Comments to “ Puka Punch”
  1. CraigerNo Gravatar says:

    My inclination to garnish a drink is usually in proportion to how much effort went into making it. If I’ve already put in a decent amount of time & energy, I feel the drink deserves it finishing touch (particlarly for tiki drinks, for which much of the appeal is visual). And regardless of the complexity, some drinks look just plain naked without their garnish.

    Also, I’m the first to admit I like the eye candy the garnish provides. I even went to my local restaurant supply store to buy paper umbrellas in bulk!

  2. RickNo Gravatar says:


    You are completely right. A beautiful presentation does make a cocktail taste better.

    Your comment on paper parasols has reminded me how I have been purposely avoiding tiki “shops” online where you can find a plethora of mugs, garnishes, etc. This is 100% for the benefit of my wallet, but I may have to give in.

    What are everyone’s favorite online tiki treasure resources?

  3. BKNo Gravatar says:

    Okay, now, unfair! Just like Ted Haigh’s VSFC, falernum is going to be one of those things I’m still trying to find…like swedish punsch! Damn you Mr. Penguin for causing me, and my mates, such distress!

    To be fair, I love tiki drinks! I’ll make this without if I have to. Cheers to you!

  4. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Making this drink without the falernum would be an injustice!

    Spare 20 minutes of your life and make up your own batch. It will not only add near miraculous complexity to your cocktails, it will give you the sense of satisfaction that only making your own syrups can.

    Just follow the link for the recipe!

  5. AdamNo Gravatar says:

    Surprising no one, I have little doubt that the end of “tiki season” on will leave me inconsolable and, probably, bitterer than an unripe mango.

    Considering that Rick is given to throwing windows open in the height of winter to maintain his desired temperature, I suggest year-round tiki consumption as an alternative cooling method; one far less likely to result in his houseguests being accidentally cryogenically frozen.

    I exhort all who read this page to browbeat our esteemed host into compliance with our all-tiki manifesto.

    And yes, that nectar review is coming!

  6. JoeNo Gravatar says:

    I personally am looking forward to more scotch and whiskey based drinks being reviewed. I am quite happy with my new-found love of Bobby Burnses, and can’t wait for more.

    Sorry Adam, but whiskey trumps tiki any day in my book…

  7. JackNo Gravatar says:

    Rick, what sort of passion fruit syrups have you tried?

  8. RickNo Gravatar says:

    I must be honest here. There is a small Asian market down the road that carries an unamed – well, unamed for those who cannot read Mandarin – passion fruit syrup that has two ingredients: passion fruit and sugar. It’s delicious, so I haven’t bothered to try another brand. Making my own would probably cost $75 a bottle as opposed to the $5 I spend now…

    Perhaps others can offer up some advice.

  9. CraigerNo Gravatar says:

    Jack- The only brand I’ve tried so far is Monin, which I was able to find at a nearby coffee shop (Most coffee places I’ve been to seem to use either Monin or Torani). I’ve used it in several tiki drink recipes, and thought it was very tasty. However, Trader Vic’s seems so have a following in some of the tiki drink forums I’ve browsed. Someone also claimed T.V.’s is the only brand that contains real passion fruit, but I can’t confirm or deny that.

    Rick- Nice tip on the Asian grocer! There are several around here, so I’ll have to check them out next time I’m out & about.

  10. Doug PNo Gravatar says:

    I just posted a recipe for Passionfruit Syrup on the msn Drinkboy forum, but I’ll repeat it here:

    1/2 cup water
    1/2 cup passion fruit juice (or juice of 8 fruits; I used Ceres from the box)
    1 cup sugar

    1) Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a boil.
    2) Boil 5-10 minutes, until the mixture starts to become thick and syrupy.
    3) THEN, add the passion fruit juice.
    4) Continue boiling for 1-2 minutes.

    If desired, add 1/2oz or so of vodka as a preservative.

    Should run you less than $75, I hope! Thanks for all the great recipes here, I have been enjoying many of them!

  11. I only garnish drinks if I’m serving them to others. If it’s just for me, I just drink it. Unless I’m photographing it for my blog.

  12. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Craig – Any luck finding passion fruit syrup at your local Asian grocer?

    Doug – Thanks for the recipe! I haven’t been able to find any nectars besides goya, and their passion fruit is more of a cocktail than a nectar… any tips?

    Lady Amalthea – This has been my policy as well, though I think I may start garnishing my own. My lack of appropriate tiki mugs is perhaps my downfall.

  13. AndyNo Gravatar says:

    I also have a recipe for homemade passion fruit syrup that I find superior in flavor to the Trader Vic’s product and cheaper to make than buy, if, like me, you’re having to order it online. I provide the recipe for using the bottled juice in 16 oz bottles but scaling the recipe is not difficult.

    4 16oz bottles Goya Passion Fruit Juice
    2 cups sugar (This makes it extremely sweet, I’ll probably scale back to 1.5 cups next time, you may want to as well)
    White rum or Vodka for preservative

    In a large pot heat the juice and dissolve the sugar into it. Now the fun part: bring to a low boil and reduce it by at least 2/3, or up to 3/4 (ie you should have 1/4-1/3 the volume you began with). Estimating this can be tricky, esp as it gets low and begins to foam. Be careful not to let it boil over. When it is reduced enough, let it cool, then add an ounce or two of white rum of vodka as a preservative. Bottle it in one of the empty juice bottles or whatever you have handy. I store it in the fridge to be on the safe side, but presumably the alcohol should prevent spoilage even if unrefrigerated. The finished product should be a rich golden brown and I guarantee it will make the best Zombie ever (Intoxica/Dr Cocktail recipe). You should be able to make a fifth of this syrup for about $7-8 vs the $9.50 or so that it costs to order TV syrups online.

    I am currently enjoying a Puka Punch made from this syrup. Delicious.


  14. JackNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you so much for all the advice, guys. Goya is the only thing I can find locally – I’m pleased to hear that it makes an acceptable syrup!

  15. erik_flannestadNo Gravatar says:

    I tend to be pretty concerned with functionality when I make cocktails (or cook). Also, I am lazy.

    So if it doesn’t add anything to the cocktail, I tend not to go to the trouble.

    I saw some pictures recently, where a bartender had created incredibly elaborate drink garnishes with sculptured radishes and carrots. Sure they looked nice; but, why on earth would you want a radish or carrot with any cocktail other than a Bloody Mary?

    Though, I have to admit Rick’s great pictures here at Kaiser Penguin have guilted me into tarting up some of my cocktail presentations. I still maintain, though, that if it comes with your cocktail, you should be able to drink/eat it and it shouldn’t detract from the cocktail you’re enjoying.

  16. CraigerNo Gravatar says:

    Rick- I haven’t yet gone on my passion fruit safari. The majority of the Asian grocers are in a part of town that I don’t get to very often. But I’m definitely making a point of getting over there and snooping around. One of the places was even mentioned in a local magazine’s “best of” feature, so I’m optimistic…I’ll keep you posted!

  17. JoeNo Gravatar says:

    I just picked about 10 fresh passion fruit while I was on a hike last weekend…it’s a shame I can’t bring them back with me when I visit. They were v tasty.

    Maybe I’ll try and make some syrup for you and bring it back…that would be fun…

  18. KENNo Gravatar says:

    I have had one made at the bar of its origin – LA’s own Tiki Ti!

  19. […] was first falling permanently under the spell of the volcano gods. I decided to assemble a…. Puka Punch! Rick got it from Intoxica!,by Beach Bum Berry. You can tell how old this post is by the fact that […]

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

Why on Earth did you name your blog “Kaiser Penguin?”

It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.