Rum has a special place in our hearts here in Key West. During Prohibition, this island once played an important role in the rum-running trade as one of the key stops for smuggling Caribbean rum into Florida speakeasies. Today it remains the spirit of choice down here in the Florida Keys, whether it’s muddled with fresh limes and mint for a refreshing mojito or blended with orange and pineapple for a sunny rum runner.
At Gates, we’ve partnered with Paul Menta of Key West First Legal Rum Distillery to feature a private-label selection of his finest spirits at our Rum Row bar. As its name implies, this is the first legal Key West rum distillery on the island, which opened in 2013 in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant.
Paul himself is a unique character—a professional kite boarder, chef, restaurateur, and now rum distiller, he draws inspiration from local ingredients and flavors for his distinctly Key West rum. His “Chef Distilled” philosophy emphasizes a farm-to-bottle approach that sources native Floridian ingredients whenever possible, from the Demerera sugar cane used in distilling to the key limes, oranges, and vanilla beans used in rum infusions. The result is smooth, delicious rum that Paul declares as “hangover free.”
Experience Key West First Legal Rum through a selection of handcrafted cocktails inspired by Key West history, such as “Up in Smoke” (a nod to the cigar industry) featuring First Legal’s raw and unfiltered rum, or the Tomoka Mojito, named after a famous rum-running ship. We’ll also carry a selection of aged and dark sipping rums to enjoy neat or with a simple ice cube—the perfect pairing for a Rodriguez Cigar, if you so choose.
The Gates will frequently host rum tastings and other special cocktail events at Rum Row. Join our mailing list to learn more about events as well as tours to Key West First Legal Rum Distillery, where you can meet Paul himself!