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Founder, Thrasher’s Rum & Potomac Distilling Company: TODD THRASHER

Published by The Rumlab ago

Founder, Thrasher’s Rum & Potomac Distilling Company: TODD THRASHER article cover image

Guyanese-style rum – that’s what Todd Thrasher, the celebrated barman-turned-rum-distiller calls his new brand, Thrasher’s Rum. Rich, oaky, and molasses-based, it draws inspiration from Thrasher’s countless rum-sodden adventures throughout the South Pacific during his formative time as a dive master.

Thrasher’s Rum is produced in the urban, waterfront Potomac Distilling Company and served at his bar Tiki TNT, situated along DC’s District Wharf. It is available in four signature styles – Gold, White, Spiced, and Green Spiced – and sold at the distillery.

Thrasher’s Rum brings a distinct English Caribbean-style of rum to America, a rare occurrence for a country that historically relies on rum to be imported.

Learn more about Todd Thrasher, Thrasher’s Rum & Potomac Distilling Company, Founder, in the next interview:

TRL: Who is Todd Thrasher?

For over a decade, Todd Thrasher has been at the forefront of the artisanal cocktail movement, partnering with celebrated chefs to open numerous acclaimed restaurants and bars as owner and beverage director. In December 2018, the lauded bartender and sommelier launched his most ambitious project yet, Potomac Distilling Company, an urban distillery producing Thrasher’s Rum and housing Polynesian-inspired gathering spot, Tiki TNT, in Washington D.C.

Tiki TNT, draws inspiration from Thrasher’s countless rum-sodden scuba diving adventures throughout the South Pacific and West Indies during Thrasher’s time as a divemaster. Tiki TNT is now the go-to site for a buzzy, laid-back, and fast-casual bite, day-drinking hangout, pre-concert pit stop, or post-meal nightcap. The three-story restaurant space transports diners to remote islands – guests enter beneath floating Tiki huts and past a bamboo host stand, into an airy space decorated with banana leaf wall coverings, colorful floor-to-ceiling skulls and totem pole murals. The emporium also houses Thrasher’s urban rum distillery – Potomac Distilling Company – which produces the award-winning Thrasher’s Rum.

TRL: What does the rum mean for you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

I vividly remember spending many years, witnessing picture-perfect sunsets after a long day of scuba diving in the South Pacific, Caribbean, and West Indies, with a neat pour of dark rum in my pruney fingers. I have a deep love for the ocean – and I wanted to create a rum that was synonymous with my experiences as a scuba dive master.  

TRL: Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective.

My rum is influenced by the distinct English Caribbean style using molasses. For me, a preferred brand or style of rum is often determined by the season. For example, Spiced Rum is denser in flavor which makes it better suited for the cooler, winter months. And, our flavored Thrasher’s Rums are designed with an eye toward subtlety that is distinctly unusual from the typical expressions. For example, our Coconut Rum is made entirely without extract – so it shares all of the flavors without the sugary sweetness.

TRL: What is the most important contribution you have made in the rum industry?

I hope I’ve made rum more accessible to imbibers who may have been hesitant to try the spirit. For example – our flagship, Green Spice Rum, is infused with lemon verbena, lemongrass, lemon balm, spearmint, green cardamom and lime. It is meant to impart a flavor similar to Gin – and I think I have reached a new audience who may not otherwise have had an entry point to the spirit. 

TRL: Benefits that the rum industry has given you.

For me, rum is totally transportive! It keeps me connected to my island-hopping adventures as a scuba dive instructor! And, beyond my personal connection – it is an incredibly versatile spirit that pushes me to be even more creative behind the bar!

TRL: What’s another thing you are passionate about, in addition to rum? Why?

I’m an avid scuba diver and my adventures of island hopping are a huge part of the rum-making process – I hope to transport people with my rum. Think of it as a vacation in a glass!

TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?

Tiki TNT! After years spent behind the bar in DC’s fine dining establishments – I wanted to create a place where people could just have fun! The whole place transports me to vacations I’ve taken – and I love being able to share that experience with our guests!

TRL: Favorite drink + Recipe

I go diving on an island called Bonaire, where the water is turquoise blue and crystal clear. There’s a little bar there. Since there’s no place to put your money when you dive, when you go there, you have wet money. A favorite cocktail of mine, Wet Money, at Tiki TNT is named as a tribute to this!

TRL: Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?

The biggest stereotype about rum is that it’s a sweet, sugary spirit. I often hear people say that they don’t like rum because it has so much sugar in it or that they don’t like rum-based cocktails because they are crazy sweet. That just isn’t true and that is why it is so important to educate guests about the complexity and diversity of rum. Rum can be refined. It can be aged. It is complex and there are just so many different styles.

TRL: What are your next goals in the rum industry?

I take the approach of looking out for what to avoid when enjoying rum. If there is a strong alcohol taste when sipping a rum and it burns your throat – that is a clear sign that it is not a good rum.  Rum should be smooth and pleasant when sipping it, possessing the characteristics of that particular rum – remember to read your labels. When you get a butyric acid smell, the odor is so deeply unpleasant, there is your tip – don’t drink it!

TRL: Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?

I take the approach of looking out for what to avoid when enjoying rum. If there is a strong alcohol taste when sipping a rum and it burns your throat – that is a clear sign that it is not a good rum.  Rum should be smooth and pleasant when sipping it, possessing the characteristics of that particular rum – remember to read your labels. When you get a butyric acid smell, the odor is so deeply unpleasant, there is your tip – don’t drink it!

TRL: Is the commitment to sustainable development the key of success for the permanence of the rum industry in the world? Why?

I only speak for myself but the key to making things work in life is having a commitment to sustainability. We are most conscious of what we use and our approach with the variety of rums we produce. For example, our Coconut Rum – starts with sixty pounds of raw Thai coconut steeped overnight in Thrasher’s White Rum. Afterward, a botanical basket is loaded with five pounds of toasted coconut, enhancing the final taste with a light nuttiness. Finally, an additional five pounds of dehydrated coconut is steeped in the still for four days.

TRL: Who would like to meet in the rum industry? What would you say to him/her?

I am impressed with the origins of things, and it would be interesting to meet those who first created rum in Guyana (South America) back in the 1800s. I would be interested in witnessing the evolution of rum and its initial process. I am a huge fan of El Dorado Rum which is now produced by the last remaining Guyanese distiller, Demerara Distillers Limited. It is some of the best rum I have enjoyed when I first started scuba diving in those waters. Demerara rum is produced on the banks of the Demerara River, just outside of Guyana’s capital of Georgetown, very close to Trinidad. All Demerara rum is distilled in Guyana, regardless of where it may be aged and bottled. The rum is derived from sugarcane grown along the banks and distilled at  DDL.

TRL: What are your next goals in the rum industry?

First and foremost, my goal is to create Thrasher’s Rum into a worldwide brand!

TRL: Plans you have when you leave the rum industry?   

I am never leaving the Rum industry. This is my second career and my final career. And it is not really a career as it is something I truly enjoy. My best life is on the beach and diving – now with my family. Rum brings me to that happy place.

TRL: Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?

The versatility of Rum makes it very dynamic to work and experiment with – bartenders can help share the true versatility of rum and dispel any misconceptions about the limitations of the spirit.

TRL: What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?

I don’t think there should be any guidelines when it comes to using rum in cocktails! My advice is to relax and have fun!

TRL: How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?

Website:

https://www.tikitnt.com/ https://www.thrashersrum.com/home/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/tiki_tnt/ https://www.instagram.com/thrashersrum/ https://www.instagram.com/toddthrasher/

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