Calling the Shots with Montauk Rum Runners

I like liquor. I don’t know much about liquor, but I like it. I’ll drink it, and occasionally, I’ll overindulge and wake up fully clothed atop my bed and its sheets with opera music playing loudly from my laptop. That’s about as far as liquor and I go. So when I ran into the Kate and Brian, the owners Montauk Rum Runners, at a bar in New York City, I tried my absolute best to abide by the aforementioned limits. Oh, but Kate and Brian had other plans, and they did not involve my limits.

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Fast forward about a week — Pat, Kim, Kate and Brian (the complete MRR gang) are handing out shots to an unsuspecting crowd at the Whalebone x Waves for Water. I watched as sober friends become professional spirit-samplers, and I am reminded of my recent night with Pat and Kim — an incredible night with incredible-tasting liquor where many’s limits were pushed (mostly on my our accord). In reminiscing, I began to wonder who exactly these MRR folks are, and how they came about this unique ability to decide how other’s evenings play out. One thing led to another and I ended up being able to ask the liquor-slinging gang a few questions regarding their whole operation. Check it out below, and be careful around these cats — they call the shots.

For those of us that were fortunate enough to skip the age of alcohol prohibition, what was a “Rum Runner?”

Well, we’re not old enough to have lived through the age of prohibition either! But our great grandparents moved to the old Montauk Fishing Village during that time to raise their family and run the Roadside Restaurant. In spite of the ban, I don’t think there was any shortage of booze in Montauk at the time. Ships carrying Canadian whiskey, England gin and rum from the Caribbean parked just offshore in international waters in a line-up referred to as Rum Row, waiting for the daring fishermen of Montauk to sneak out of Fort Pond Bay to meet them and bring the booze to shore. These hardworking men from all walks of life who transported spirits to the Rum Line and who smuggled them to shore where known as rum runners.

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What has been the best tasting drink so far that involves your liquor?

We are big fans of Sweet’tauk Lemonade. We recently teamed up with them to make a mixed drink using their blackberry hibiscus lemonade and our citrus flavored gin. We had high expectations, but it was even better than we imagined. We will definitely be stocking up on more Sweet’tauk lemonade to pair with our honey flavored whiskey and coconut flavored rum!

You guys carry a trifecta of delicious spirits — rum, whiskey and gin. Any particular reason you chose these three?

We started this business about a year ago with the hope of bringing our family closer together, celebrating our family’s history in Montauk and celebrating all the hardworking families that pioneered the old Montauk Fishing Village and that make up this town today. We wanted to make sure that our brand covered the individual tastes of everyone in our family, which is how we decided to make a rum, whiskey and gin. Also, these were the prominent liquors imported by rum runners during prohibition, so it was an easy decision.

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It’s hard to “survive” on liquor alone… do you ladies have a favorite beer?

When we’re not hitting the hard stuff, we’ve been known to throw back a few Montauk Brewing Co. Summer Ales. We make sure to keep our fridge stocked with it!

The liquor business seems like a tough industry to break into. What is the major ingredient in your brand that’s going to have folks reaching for your product and not the seemingly ageless competition (Capt. Morgan, Jack Daniels, Bombay)?

We wanted to incorporate into our brand the characteristics of Montauk that we love the most. Montauk has certainly changed a lot since our great grandparents moved to the old Fishing Village, but we all still enjoy the same simple beauty that Montauk offers. We’ve tried to mirror that simple beauty in the qualities in our rum, whiskey and gin by making something that’s uncomplicated and good and easy to enjoy. Something that reminds you of summers by the beach and spending time with family. We hope people will continue to appreciate the beauty of Montauk and the history of the hardworking families that did and do make up this town, maybe while watching the sunset with one of our spirits in hand 🙂 .

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The finale — we’ll keep it light. Where’s your favorite place to enjoy a drink in Montauk?

There are so many great places in Montauk to enjoy a drink, but more often than not you’ll find us at East By Northeast. Great food (thanks to Chef Jeremy Blutstein and team), great new outdoor bar, and a picture perfect view of the sunset over Fort Pond. We also like our backyard, but the service there can be shotty.

Featured photo and additional photos courtesy of Montauk Rum Runners and their Instagram.