Founder/President - Florida Rum Society: "Trader" Jay Cocorullo

Published by The Rumlab ago

Founder/President - Florida Rum Society: "Trader" Jay Cocorullo  article cover image

The mission of the Florida Rum Society is to help Floridians realize there is a Rum out there for everyone. Its purpose is to make Florida the “GO TO” place for rum by working to bring quality products, options, and information to the Rum Lovers of Florida and beyond. “Trader” Jay Cocorullo is the president of the Florida Rum Society. If you want to know about him enjoy the next interview:

TRL: Who is Jay Cocorullo?

I’m just a passionate rum lover from Florida who had the “brilliant” idea one day, along with 2 buddies, to start the Florida Rum Society. The FRS is a group of now almost 1,800 rum lovers from across the Sunshine State (and, honestly, the globe) who share a passion for great rum expressions and value the importance of rum education.

I was born and grew up in South Florida (Stuart), attended the University of Florida (Go Gators!), and now live in Central Florida. As a native Floridian, I am passionate about providing the rum lovers of the state with the best rum options available, hence the FRS was born.

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

I have always enjoyed rum but, like so many, I started my rum journey with spiced and flavored rums when I was in college. However, I really turned my enjoyment of rum into a true LOVE with Martin Cate’s Smuggler’s Cove book I purchased shortly after a visit to the namesake tiki bar in San Francisco. His information and education on rum made me want to FIND these rums that were needed to make his wonderful Tiki Cocktails! When I couldn’t find a lot of the expressions in Florida, I came up with a potential solution in the FRS.

We started the FRS in November 2019 and slowly grew to 40 members in February 2020. This is when Kate Perry from La Madison & Velier agreed to host our first tasting. It was a smashing success… only to all go into lockdown 3 weeks later.

However, the COVID lockdowns kind of allowed us to take a different approach… We started Virtual Happy Hours in April 2020 and hosted them weekly. Each week, we would host someone from the rum world to have a casual chat about rum. It was a great way for everyone to connect and also helped the FRS grow into the significant community it is today.

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

I don’t know that I’ve contributed to the rum industry, per se, however, I believe that the growth of the Florida Rum Society has allowed more quality rums to be available to Floridians. We, as a group, have worked to bring in core expressions that previously would only be sold in California and New York and the FRS has collaborated on no less than 30 single-barrel expressions. Having these available for members and rum lovers at large puts a smile on my face.

TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?

I love enjoying rum in so many places but my favorite is for sure my home bar, Trader Jay’s, where I enjoy it with my friends and family. But, if I’m out enjoying rum in the Central Florida area, then I love visiting Strong Water Tavern and heading out to the East Coast to have a sip at Tropics in Cocoa or Boat Drinks in St. Augustine.

Some of my other favorite rum bars include Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago), Smuggler’s Cove (San Fran), Skull & Crown (Honolulu), Laki Kane (London), and Latitude 29 (New Orleans).

TRL: Favorite drink + Recipe

While I love so many, including the classic daiquiri, I always default to the 1944 Trader Vic Mai Tai. My recipe is straight from Martin Cate and, instead of doing a split base like many, I stick to 100% Jamaican rum.  (3/4oz Fresh Lime Juice, 1/4oz Orgeat, 1/4oz Rich Simple Syrup, 1/2oz Dry Curaçao, 2oz Jamaican Rum — Worthy Park 109 or Appleton 12 year are my favorites)

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

There is so much “marketing speak” and noise out there that it is important to understand what is in your rum bottle and what things like “minimum age statements” mean. With the FRS we believe you should “drink what you love but know what you drink”… and I truly believe that is the truth.

Additives, like sugar after distillation, aren’t going to suddenly disappear from bottles of rum. Many people enjoy those styles of rum. And, honestly, that’s okay… what I would love to see is a greater push for transparency in the labeling of rum so that the consumer can now and then decide what is right for them. This is one thing I’m working with a group of rum clubs on, the Rum Consumers Alliance (RCA). We are trying to use the power of 10,000+ rum lovers’ voices to help urge suppliers to adopt our transparency model. Many companies already meet the criteria but we would love for all of them too! (Read more at rumconsumersalliance.com)

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

Obviously, continue to grow the reach of the FRS and continue to work on bringing the best rums to Floridians. We are always looking for new locations to join our Fourth Barrel Merchant Member program (https://floridarumsociety.com/fourth-barrel/) as well as bars that want to focus on quality rums and rum cocktails.

For the first time, the FRS is planning a group trip to Jamaica in 2023 (November) as well as other things in the planning stages. We would love to continue to grow ways we can bring members together to enjoy each other’s company… Rum Friends are Best Friends!

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

It is critical to have bartenders who know rum… both the different styles and some base knowledge regarding additives and just basic rum drinks (i.e. the classic daiquiri). Education on the daiquiri is a secret goal of the Florida Rum Society. Too many times have we been at bars that claim to be “craft cocktail bars” only to be told “we don’t have a blender” when we ask for a classic, hand-shaken daiquiri? This cocktail, so simple, should be in the same category as an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Martini… It is historic, classic, and necessary.

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


https://www.instagram.com/floridarumsociety/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/FloridaRumSociety/