Interview of the week with Bahama Bob Leonard – Legendary Rum Author, Speaker & Judge


Bahama Bob Leonard 
Legendary Rum Author, Speaker & Judge

1) Who is Bahama Bob Leonard

Born in Dayton, Ohio and spend my development years in the San Francisco Bay Area, High School and College years between Foothill College and Humboldt State University. Married in 1975 to Marta, and we have spent the past 41 years in various industries that include NASCAR racing and the world of rum.  I owned a chassis engineering and development firm that worked with all of the American auto factories and a good number of the race teams for more than fifty year in total.    I’ve been a bartender for the past nine plus years.   I was the day shift bartender at The Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn in Key West for seven years.   I was the purchaser and responsible for putting together the 247 different rums that are available for tasting there.

    My travels to the fun places in the Caribbean have allowed me to visit some of the more interesting cocktail lounges and beach bars.   It is also been an opportunity to get to know some very colorful bartenders who have been very helpful in chasing down many of the original recipes for the book and the cocktails that I get to produce five days a week at the Rum Bar on Duval Street in Key West, Florida.    Chasing cocktails in the Bahamas’, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Virgin Islands, the Florida Keys, Trinidad, Venezuela, Panama,  Grand Cayman, Jamaica, St. Maarten, St. Croix, Grenada,  Antigua, St. Lucia, and four visits to Havana and Santiago de Cuba.   I was able to glean recipes and facts about their cocktails in order to provide a fun and interesting tales about them.

  The doors that have been opened to me because of my connections with the international rum business.    This has allowed me to become more aware of all of the sugarcane spirits that are available for the development of new cocktails.  It is the individual characteristics of each and every rum that makes a cocktail unique and give it the character that you are looking for when you create the cocktail.

    Currently living on my boat in Key West, Florida writing a daily blog (“Bahama Bob’s Rumstyles”), developing new cocktails at the Rum Lab, selling my book, (“Bahama Bob’s Cocktails and Tails”), and spending four days a week behind the bar (The Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn).   I spend quite a bit of time developing rum cocktails for many of the rum producers and as a rum ambassador to the industry.   I am also a member of the RumXP group that allows me to be a judge of fine rums for festivals and special events throughout the world of rum.

    Living life to the fullest, I find that the world of rum and the tropics fit my clothes very well.


2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

Rum fell in after my fraternity and college years of cheap beer and wine.  I started with Brandy and Scotch, but the lure of the rum took over in my mid twenties and never left me.  The variety of flavors and the uniqueness of the expressions have held me ever since.


3) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?

My book sales along with the wide readership of my daily Blog.(Bahama Bob’s Rumstyles)  The regular invitations to judge rums and be a part of the many festivals.

4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry? 

I love to experiment with the spirit, including doing aging experiments and creating new cocktails.  The wide variety of flavors and textures of the different rums are a great basis to create new cocktails.

5) Favorite Rum Drink + Recipe?Great rum with a cube of ice.
6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?

I see it going to a new era where the rums are truly categorized and labeled accordingly.  The growth will come back with the understanding of what people are actually buying.   Premium sectors should be the area of the maximum growth, but there needs to be a push to improve the volume produced to regain the confidence of the public.

7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have help you. 

Richard Seale, Tito Cordero, Mike Streeter, Robert Burr, Don Pancho, Troy Roberts, and so many more.

8) What 3-5 things do you have in your bucket list for the next 12 months?

Just to keep visiting other distilleries and islands that I haven’t seen yet.  Otherwise Marta and I have always believed in doing what interests us by whatever means that it takes to make it happen.

9) Any last words?

Keep on “Rumming”  the list goes on forever and the party never ends.

10) How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?

Bahama Bob Leonard on Facebook, Twitter, Pinerest, and Google

Bahama Bob for my Blog, Bahama Bob’s Rumstyles


Author: Fede

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