GM of Rumba, the North West’s premiere rum bar.
1) Bucket List items for this year.
- Drink rum on a Caribbean beach, because it just tastes better that way.
- Get to a rum producing region I have not explored yet–I’d love to visit DDI in Guyana or Cuba because, Cuba.
- Attend a rum festival! I went to Miami last year, this year I’d love to do UK or the Bahamas.
- Latitude 29. Enough said.
- A bar takeover. We just had Portland’s Hale Pele up to turn Rumba into a tiki bar for an evening. It was such a blast! I think it would be a good time to be on the other side and Rumba-ify another bar for an evening. Any takers?
2) Biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.
Changing a guest’s assumptions on rum–even just one person at a time– is my biggest achievement. Getting people away from the notion that rum drinks are sugary-sweet and rum isn’t for sipping; Opening a person’s eyes to the breadth and diversity of r(h)um. So many people come in and say “I’m not really into rum” to which I usually respond “Perhaps you just haven’t met the right one!” I feel a great sense of accomplishment every time I can make a solid introduction.
3) Favorite Drink + Recipe
My favorite drink is a classic Ti’ Punch, the national drink of Martinique and popular throughout the French islands. I’ll happily drink any blanc rhum that wants to jump in my glass, but my personal favorites are Dillon Blanc if I want something aggressively funky and St. James Fleur de Canne if I’m feeling more elegant. A coin of lime and a dash of sirop de canne are all it takes to make this simple, but wildly complex cocktail. I prefer mine neat and undiluted.
4) Where do you see the rum industry today?
The rum industry today seems to be a melting pot teaming with large production distilleries, island staples, the little guy and the new guys. One of the things I love about rum is it’s lack of regulation–it feels like the Wild West out there! So often we come across new rums and distilleries making sugar cane spirit. It’s exciting to have so many different points of view, old-school and new. I think that many average consumers are starting to realize that there’s something to this beyond the Rum & Coke.
5) Where do you see the rum industry in 5 years?
I think we will experience a push towards the sipping rums. Even in the last two years, we’ve seen a push in this direction: we sell more neat rums off the shelf than ever before! I think we will see a lot of large production rum companies pushing their top-shelf selections or creating new sipping rum skews (a la Bacardi’s Facundo line). I think we might begin to see people starting to sip unaged rums, like the agave movement is seeing now.
6) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have helped you.
This is hard! There are so many amazing people in the rum & spirits world.
-Guillaume Lamy, Alexandre Gabriel and the folks at Plantation are exceptionally wonderful. They are always available to answer any question down to its geekiest level for me, and always willing to share their secrets and remain transparent. Cognac Ferrand and Plantation Rums are an incredible company full of integrity and great people. Plus their rum bottlings are delicious!
-Andrew Bohrer for being the first to tell me that Rumba is something special and we should keep doing what we do. Many people shook their heads when I told them we were opening a rum-centric bar in the farthest reaching US corner, away from the Caribbean, as possible. Andrew has been an advocate and friend to the bar since Day 1, and I deeply appreciated his kind words and recommendations during our first few months and to this day.
-I would be remiss if I left my first bar manager, Connor O’Brien, off this list. Connor has a deep wealth of information regarding all things sugar cane and he helped me develop my knowledge base and palate.
-And my current bar manager, Jim Romdall, for teaching me that rum is FUN! I’ve never enjoyed my job as much as I do every new day, and a lot of that is credited to my managing partnership with Jim.