Rum Connoisseur interview of the week:
Bar Manager of SOS Tiki Bar in Decatur, Georgia / Pussers Rum – Mixologist on Deck
1. Tell me about yourself. What’s your background, and how did you end up as a mixologist?
I’m a bartender from Atlanta. I’ve been working in the city for the better part of 10 years. I started off as a server/prep cook in 2006 and eventually found my way behind the bar. I’ve always appreciated the craft and skill of this old profession and found myself going out of my way to learn as much about it as I could. I studied a little bit of art history and theater in college, and have always had an inclination toward the creative arts and bar tending scratches that itch for me whether its crafting a flavor profile out of complimentary (or contradictory) elements or going full tilt into the garnish game. The social aspect of the job makes it a very fulfilling profession, as I have been accused of being quite gregarious.
2. What’s your favorite rum cocktail?
My favorite way to enjoy Pusser’s is by pouring a healthy amount of the Aged 15 Years into a rocks glass with a couple of big ‘ol ice cubes floating around in it. If I had to choose one cocktail that I’m most excited about right now, it is a variation on the classic Pusser’s Painkiller that we’ve just put on our menu at SOS Tiki Bar. We start with our house recipe including pineapple, orange juice, coconut cream, fresh squeezed lemon juice, tiki bitters, and of course Pusser’s. We then load the ingredients into our slushie machine, because frozen is the way to go here in the balmy south. We also offer a top off with the Gunpowder Proof for those with less time to kill. Of our original cocktails on the SOS menu, Pusser’s has found its way into over half of our original creations.
3. Please tell me about your personal connection to rum. Why choose rum over another spirit?
My appreciation of rum stems from the rich and diverse history of the spirit and its indelible mark on Western culture, of which Pusser’s deserves credit for much. It has almost no regulation and can come in a staggering array of flavor profiles and characteristics, all this making it a lot of fun to work with. Taking the grassy, funky flavors from Rhum Agricole, or the rich, caramel and oak flavors from Navy rums, the possibilities are endless!
4. What do you think the future of rum is?
I’ve been saying for years that rum is about to be, if not in the midst of a renaissance. People are enjoying more diverse sets of rum, and not associating it with the sugary sweet “spiced” rums of the 80s. I always like to have a whiskey fanatic sit at my bar and convince them that rum is the way to tipple.
5. Where do you get inspiration for your cocktails?
When crafting a drink I always like to start with a concept – be it flavor, a mood, or something left field like a dumb name for the cocktail – and then work my way inwards. Historic figures, dumb puns, punk music, you name it – it all find a way in inspiring the drinks I make.
6. Please tell me about your greatest achievement in relation to the spirits industry.
Helming the bar and working with my amazing crew at The SOS has been, without a doubt the proudest achievement of my career to date. My bar staff and I work closely together to pull off some really awesome cocktails in a fun environment, and I’m excited for what we can achieve in the future.
7. Any other interesting facts? Hobbies? Talents?
Fun Facts about Josh Martin include, but are not limited to: An almost encyclopedic knowledge of the events of The Lord of the Rings and other the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. A deep (almost too deep) appreciation for all things Star Trek. Collecting punk and weirdo vinyl records. Backpacking and hanging out with his amazing wife/life-boss Sarah.
8. How can people learn more about you?
I currently don’t have a website, or personally curated brand, but my exploits are pretty well document on the SOS Tiki Bar’s Instagram account – @sostikibar.
INTERVIEW POSTED ON PUSSER’S WEBSITE: http://pussersrum.com/announcements/mixologist-deck-josh-martin/