Born in Chicago at the end of the 19th century, this literary mastermind traveled the world and embedded himself in the middle of some of the century’s most notable events including being a teenage ambulance driver in World War I and serving as a journalist during both the Spanish Civil War and World War II.
By many accounts, he lived hard and he played hard but he was “never a spectator.” And today, a premium rum bears his name: Papa’s Pilar Rum, founded with that same sense of adventure that Papa himself lived on a daily basis. And Pilar was his beloved boat that was named after his second wife, Pauline.
Our newest client afforded us the opportunity to travel to Key West, a location that also evokes a sense of adventure. Home to Hemingway during the 1930s, this is where this elixir is distilled within the brick walls of an old tobacco warehouse in the old section of town.
We arrived a day early so that we could immerse ourselves in the spirit of old Key West before embarking on a spiritual tour of another variety.
Our first stop was the Hemingway Social Club. A large lifesize statue of Papa, leaning against the bar, greeted us as we walked through the doors. A large mural blanketed the wall behind the bar while bookcases lined the empty walls. As we stepped up to the bar, the bartender greeted us and directed our attention to the list of specialty drinks. You guessed it, they all contain one of the variety of rums distilled on site. Wanting to channel my own inner literary muse, I ordered the Hemingway daiquiri.
Encompassing nearly the entire block, the old tobacco warehouse has been restored to include the distillery, a bottling room, the social club and retail store that features Papa’s Pilar swag along with an assortment of other provisions worthy of Hemingway himself.
As we walk along the streets lined with old houses, it’s easy to let your mind drift back nearly a century and imagine that Hemingway himself walked these same streets from his house to the waterfront.
Located at 907 Whitehead Street, the Ernest Hemingway House is now open to the public and the descendents of his six-toed (polydactyl) cats still roam the estate, roughly 60 to be exact.
The following day, we arrived at the retail section of the building and checked in for our distillery tour.
After a brief history of the building and the process of rum making, we made our way to the bottling room where we tasted the four expressions of the Papa’s Pilar Rum line: dark, blonde, and both sherry and rye finished.
And while all good things must come to an end — spending time with the Papa’s team, walking the streets of old Key West, dining along the waterfront, sipping rum in an old tobacco warehouse and perhaps even darkening the doorway of Sloppy Joes (Hemingway’s favorite watering hole on the island) will perhaps inspire another great American novel. Until then, we head home with a newfound “spirit” of adventure and an appreciation for this premium rum aptly named.