Bombay Government Punch – Rum and Tea cocktail

How to prepare a
Bombay Government Punch

Which dark rum is best for the Bombay Government Punch

Wondrich specifies that the recipe can be crafted with a myriad of decent aged options in the brandy and rum worlds. He also mentions the use of either green or black tea depending on preference. That in mind, try using the Dos Maderas 5+3 with green tea and the 5+5 when mixing with black tea. The 5+5 is a richer style of aged rum with a finish in PX casks adding more mouthfeel and sweeter aromas and black tea will stand up to the combination better. The lighter, nutty, toasty and spice driven qualities of the Dos Maderas 5+3 will compliment the more delicate green tea notes.


About Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum

Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum blends the lighter Baja Rum with the richer Guyana style and ages for 5 years in the Caribbean followed by 3 years in Jerez, Spain in Palo Cortado casks. The smooth character of the 5+3 is awash with pleasant vanilla, hazelnut, coconut and subtle maple.


About Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum

Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum blends the lighter Baja Rum with the richer Guyana style and ages for 5 years in the Caribbean followed by 3 years in Jerez, Spain in Palo Cortado casks. The smooth character of the 5+3 is awash with pleasant vanilla, hazelnut, coconut and subtle maple. 

Bombay Government Punch Ingredients

  • 1 750ml bottle of Dos Maderas 5+3 or Dos Maderas 5+5
  • 1 750ml bottle of Gran Duque de Alba Brandy
  • 12 oz. / 360ml Lime Juice
  • 12 oz. / 360ml Demerara (1:1) Syrup
  • 60 oz. / 1775 ml Cold Green or Black tea
  • 1 large ice block
  • Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

Bombay Government Punch Recipe - Step by step how to prepare Bombay Government Punch

  1. Freeze 2 quarts of water into an ice block (overnight). If you have space, you can do this directly in your punch bowl. Otherwise, a loaf pan works well.
  2. Prepare your demerara syrup by simmering 8 oz. / 240ml of demerara sugar in 8 oz. / 240ml of hot water. Stir until fully integrated and let cool.
  3. Brew 60 oz. / 1775 ml of Green or Black tea and let cool.
  4. Freshly squeeze 12 oz. / 360ml of lime juice & strain out pulp
  5. Combine rum, brandy, lime and 12 oz. / 360ml of demerara syrup and stir.
  6. Adjust as needed for taste with extra citrus, tea or demerara. Keep in mind, that as your ice block melts, your drink will get colder and more diluted.
  7. Roughly 15-20 minutes or so before serving, add your large ice block or pour into your punch bowl with the ice block.
  8. Ladle servings into punch cups and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Bombay Government Punch cocktail history and origins

Technically, the Bombay Government Punch is an offshoot of a much older recipe called the Bombay Presidency Punch which was written down in 1694 by General Sir John Gayer who had been the governor of the East India Company’s “Bombay Presidency.” Sound confusing? It should. The term “Bombay Presidency” was a phrase marking the trading company’s possessions in Northwest India at the time. The recipe consisted of Goa Arrack, fresh lime, palm sugar or jaggery, water and nutmeg. In 2003 or 2004, David Wondrich, well known cocktail historian, teacher and author, created his Bombay Government Punch by adapting this formula and changing out a few key ingredients. He added tea in place of water, demerara in place of jaggery and subbed in a combination of aged rum and brandy in lieu of the arrack. Want to learn more about his endeavors into historical punches? Check out his “Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl” book of anecdotal histories and recipes.

Bombay dark rum cocktail Variations and types

With a word like “Bombay” in the name, there can be confusion over recipes, in particular because of a very prominent gin brand. However, the term “Bombay” in naming recipes historically alludes to a very specific historic time when the British occupied India and certain ingredients meshed together including new spices like nutmeg, tea, limes and rums from palm sugar. This time period marks the birth of the Punch cocktail and many folks adhere to the theory that the term “Punch” was an iteration of the Hindi word “Panch” (Hindi पाँच (pāñć) which translates to the number “five” and is the understood number of ingredients to build a punch: spirit, citrus, sugar, water, spice.

The phrase “one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four weak” is the national rhyme in Barbados. Fittingly, the Bajan or Barbadian Rum Punch is one of the oldest iterations of the Rum Punch recipe and one of its key differences here is the addition of Angostura bitters and the fact that it is more likely to be made in single servings versus in large format.

Inspired by Donn Beach’s travels and war time experience in the US Air Force, this 1941 version of a much older classic punch (rum, citrus and water rations in the 1740’s British Royal Navy), incorporates grapefruit as well as lime, subs in honey for demerara and includes a mint garnish.


The term government in this punch is a call back to the original 1694 Bombay Presidency Punch. Because the Bombay Government Punch is a riff, the creator David Wondrich picked a kindred term as a nod to its historic nomenclature. It also refers a bit to the old practice of British government rations of rum for sailors and government employees abroad.

Rum punch evolved from the 17th century practice of the British East India Company providing rations to their workers. It was a time period where spirits in water made for a healthier refreshment than just water and when citrus evolved to be particularly helpful to fight scurvy over long sea voyages. The practice further evolved with the British Navy with terms like Old Grog.

It is believed that the term punch is an english derivative of the Hindi word for “five” or Panch” (Hindi पाँच (pāñć) since the origins of the beverage grew from this time period when Britain occupied India and the fact that Punch recipes contain 5 ingredients: spirit, citrus, sugar, water and spice.

While beer was the former rationed drink for sailors, in the mid-1600’s, following the East India Companies’ travel and spice routes, rum became available and an excellent alternative because it did not go bad in barrels and took up much less room on ships.

Cocktails with Dos Maderas 5+3

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