The Innate Coolness of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

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This week is Fleet Week in San Francisco. For those of you unfamiliar with Fleet Week, basically San Francisco is invaded by a part of the US Navy and Marines. There are sailors everywhere. The Blue Angels fly around town. The bay is stocked with submarines and other aquatic vessels. And it’s pretty cool!

Fleet Week brought to mind our recent infatuation with Sailor Jerry since the man behind the rum was an actual Naval Seaman and tattooed many others over the years (starting with his stint at the Great Lakes Naval Base outside of Chicago to his travels with the Navy and his eventual permanent location in Chinatown in Honolulu). And many of Sailor Jerry’s tattoos have a nautical, naval and Americana theme. So, in honor of the man himself and the many sailors in San Francisco this week (we are sure many of them probably have tattoos), we bring you this little article on Sailor Jerry Rum.

We have attended a few events recently with the Sailor Jerry folks and they rock! We are not only impressed by rum, itself, but by the Sailor Jerry airstream trailers and other Sailor Jerry swag. In fact, we have been so entranced that it prompted us to write this article.

While we have imbibed in Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum over the last few years, we really didn’t know much about it. In fact, we will admit that we thought it was a made-up character, kind of like Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. We had no idea that there really was a Sailor Jerry and his contributions to the tattoo culture in the United States (or his association with Ed Hardy). We were initially drawn to the bottle because we liked the hula girl on the front (and in fact, have recently learned that there a more girls for viewing on the inside of the bottle as you drink it down—we clearly need to get another bottle to see if that’s true).

But, we had no idea what a cool guy Sailor Jerry was. And, we have to say that William Grant & Sons, the distiller responsible for Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum has done a great job imbuing the spirit with the coolness. More on the very cool William Grant & Sons party at Tales of the Cocktail and Sailor Jerry swag later.

Sailor Jerry himself was a modern-day renaissance man. He spent his youth riding the rails around the United States and teaching himself to tattoo until he hooked up with some master tattoo artists in Chicago in the 1920s. It was in Chicago where Sailor Jerry joined the Navy and then sailed the oceans blue until the 1930s. During his time in the Navy, Sailor Jerry spent a great deal of time in Asia, where he was heavily influenced by far-eastern aesthetics and tattooing. Sailor Jerry then took his honed skills and settled in Hawaii where he continued to tattoo sailors (and others) for over 40 years. During this time, his designs were detailed but simple and infused with brilliant color. In Hawaii, Sailor Jerry also played in a traditional Hawaiian band, hosted a radio show and wrote poetry. Oh, and he had his shop in Chinatown. What a cool life! Check out his story!

Today, William Grant & Sons is following in the “coolness” that Sailor Jerry started. At Tales of the Cocktail, they threw a rockin’ party that paid homage to Sailor Jerry, as well as their other brands. This party was at the amazing World War II museum (which has an amazing display of DD artifacts) and hosted a tiki hut, mock Andrews Sisters and some WWII-era cocktails. However, our favorite part of the evening was hanging out in the Sailor Jerry airstream. It was a perfectly preserved relic from the 1960’s and even the air conditioning and refrigerator worked. We took it as a compliment when folks asked us if we worked for Sailor Jerry. Imagine tooling around in that airstream! My hubby also wanted one of the Sailor Jerry tattoos (this coming from a man who has never expressed even a faint interest in tattoos before). Apparently, Sailor Jerry sponsored the tattooing of many a Tales attendee with a Sailor Jerry design.

If that weren’t cool enough, we went to a concert at Fort Mason last week and another Sailor Jerry airstream was there. We have been told that there are five or six of that travel around the US. It’s like the adult version of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile! Again, the Sailor Jerry folks were amazing, invited us in and the awesome Summer poured us Sailor Jerry drinks. We also got some cool Sailor Jerry swag—dog tags, cologne and t-shirts. This to match my Sailor Jerry hat from Tales!

Check out the Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum. It’s produced in the US Virgin Islands and the infused with spice blend that includes vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Also it’s not a bad deal at approximately $20 for a 750 ml.

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