Rum BarNovember 7, 2011
Cocktail Lounge of the Year Entry
Name of Bar: Rum Bar
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Square Footage: 850
Open Date: Feb. 21, 2007
Since opening Rum Bar in 2007 with 30 rums, Owner Adam Kanter has transformed Rum Bar into a top destination with more than 230 varieties of the spirit and one of the most creative and authentic Latin-inspired menus in Philadelphia, as well as the East Coast.
Concept: As one of the only bars in the country that primarily serves rum, Rum Bar is diligent in expanding their selection and knowledge of rum. Their liquor cabinet has grown a whopping 667% since conception just four years ago. Kanter spends several weeks every year in various Caribbean islands touring distilleries, tasting spirits and discovering cuisines and techniques that he could bring back to Rum Bar. Through his and his staff’s dedication, Rum Bar has experienced significant growth this year. The core concept remains the same, but its implementation continues to improve and elevates Rum Bar to one of the elite niche cocktail bars in the country.
The interior is constructed to replicate the warmth and atmosphere of a Caribbean getaway. A bamboo-inspired bar greets guests. On one side of the bar, a lounge area featuring a life size pirate statue provides enough seating for an intimate group or several small gatherings, with a window overlooking bustling Walnut Street. The opposite side of the bar holds the dining room, which seats about 30 guests.
The warm color scheme is complemented by ambient lighting that high-light liquor bottles behind the bar. A faux sugar cane plant calls out from a wall cutout. Original sepia-tone photography of island distillers and rum making adorn the wall.
Menu: The cocktail menu is extensive. Nicknamed “The Rum Anthology," the first 12 pages consist of the ever-growing list of rums (soon to be the most in the nation) is broken down by flavor and location. A short description of each rum helps guide the guests towards their preferences. The following pages showcase Rum Bar’s cocktails, between 35-40 depending on the season. First, the nearly 20 mojitos and daiquiris that can be customized by each patron with their choice of rums. Though a specialty menu with discounted prices various days of the week, the tiki menu is always available. Each tiki cocktail comes in a unique tiki mug (or bowl for the Mini Kilauea which serves 3-4, or cookie jar for the Colonel Taylor’s Revenge). The final page of the drink menu change with the seasons. Currently, the fall menu is available and popular choices include the Apple Batida, St. Lucian Rum Punch, and Pumpkin Pie Martini. The winter cocktail menu will launch in early December. On the back cover, the Rum Anthology concludes with a glossary of terms for the rum novice—explaining ingredients like Orgeat and Grenadine, to rum terminology like Agricole and Angel’s Share.
Staff: A bar under the moniker “Rum Bar” means the bartenders serving the drinks must have vast knowledge of each spirit, and they do. Patrons frequently taste various rums, and the bartenders must act as tour guides, not only providing sufficient information to elevate the patron’s experience, but also allowing him/her to delve into their experience unimpeded. Bartenders are trained extensively before ever getting behind the bar and are required to mimic Kanter’s aggressive, never-ending quest for additional rum knowledge.
Price-Value: With most cocktails priced upwards of $10, customers expect stellar service and a high-quality product that is repeated every time. Caribbean tones and décor provide a comforting and authentic atmosphere that adds to the overall imbibing experience. The knowledge and experience of the bartenders crafting and serving the cocktails add even more value. In addition to enhancing the Latin flavors in the food and drinks, Rum Bar’s environment is clean. Kanter and staff take pride in having a restaurant and bar that appear brand new each day.
Growth at Rum Bar was slow but steady over the first three years, increasing between 2% to 5% each year. In 2011, Rum Bar is experiencing a 15% increase in revenue. The number of members on staff has increased from 11 to 14 in the past year.