Interview of The Week
Sales & Marketing Executive – USA
Antigua Distillery Ltd
1) Who is Calbert Francis?
Calbert Francis is a self taught bartender who moved through the ranks in the Hospitality Industry in Antigua. He graduated from Bartender to Mixologist, to Bar Supervisor then on to Bar Manager. Seeking a greater challenge he then moved into promotions for a local liquor distribution company (Premier Beverages) and just like his progression in the Hospitality Industry, his elevation continued as he moved from Promotions Coordinator into Sales, then Brand Management to his current position Sales and Marketing Manager for the Antigua Distillery Ltd with responsibility for the US Domestic and Duty Free markets.
2) Biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplish for the rum industry.
Being from the islands, we have a culture of calling all spirits Rum. Therefore a negative stigma was being attached to rum itself that had nothing to do with the category. With multiple educational and training seminars for both bartenders and consumers, they resulted in us being able to separate the categories and changed the image of Rum and erased the negative stigma attached to the category locally.
3) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
About 20yrs ago. As a young bartender, I was exposed to a number of island cocktails like the Antigua Smile and Antigua Kiss, that made visitors to our island happy and giddy. I then started to experiment with other flavours and ingredients and quickly realized how versatile Rum was. Whether it was cocktail that needed a white or dark spirit, rum provided that option. If the cocktail required a more refined spirit or something with a tropical flavour, rum also provided option. After that, my love for Rum blossomed and is now bearing fruit.
4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?
The challenge. Transitioning from the Caribbean to the States, I have realized the up-hill battle we face for recognition and respect for the category. Rum (especially aged rum) is literally in its infant stages. Therefore, I want to join the crusade to help educate both bartenders and consumers alike, that there is more to Rum than the traditional brands they grew up seeing. I want to introduce and encourage consumers to try the different styles of rum, whether it being Agricole, Authentic Caribbean or even Solera, because just like other categories, there is a rum suited for every palate.
5) Favourite Drink + Recipe
Antigua Black Pineapple Daiquiri (named after our National Fruit; the Antigua Black Pineapple)
2oz English Harbour 5yr Rum
½ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Agave Nectar
6 Pineapple Chunks (preferably Antigua Black Pineapple)
1oz Pineapple Juice
Coconut Flakes, Pineapple Wedge and Cherry (for Garnish)
Muddle the pineapple chunks and agave nectar together then add the other ingredients into a shaker over ice. Shake vigorously.
Rim glass (Cocktail Glass) with coconut flakes then add ice to glass. Strain contents of shaker into the glass then add pineapple wedge and cherry to complete
6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
As mentioned earlier the industry is in its infancy stage but I would like to see creation of a ‘Rum Academy’ funded by various rum brands being formed. This would help to educate consumers and trade personnel alike on rum in general and would definitely differentiate us from the other categories.
7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have help you.
In Hospitality it was definitely Robert Barrett and Dale Phillip. Then Helen Barton (Accounting) and in the Spirits Industry, Anthony Bento
8) What 3-5 things do you have in your bucket list for the next 12 month?
The Launch of our 2nd batch of The English Harbour Rum Limited Edition Cask Finishes. Final release of our English Harbour 1981 Vintage (the last allocation of our 25yr Old Rum) and the introduction of our Coconut Rum (Koko Caribe) to the US market
9) Any last words?
There is more to Rum than meets the eye, so be bold and adventurous and experiment with as much different Rums that are available to you.
10) How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?