HOME
BLOG
BACKBAR
JUKEBOX
PUBLICAN'S PERCH
AD INFO
ABOUT US
CONTACT US
FREE SUBSCRIPTION
COCKTAILS
     WAITING FOR OUR SHIP TO COME IN small crimson logo
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH

Molasses to rum to slaves

'Tisn't morals, 'tis money that saves
Shall we dance to the sound of the profitable pound
In molasses and rum and slaves.

From the play, 1776, music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards




photo courtesy of newportrestaurants.com   
The Wharf Pub in Newport,RI as seen in American  Public House Review
THE WHARF PUB AND RESTAURANT IN NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND


That unholy alliance between the Caribbean, West Africa and the British colonies in North America helped to foster a robust spirits industry in Newport, Rhode Island. By 1769 there were twenty two distilleries whose copper stills were converting the elixir of local water and blackstrap molasses into a coveted dark potable. Newport had established itself as the rum capital of the world; but within a hundred years the city would be devoid of distilleries. The combination of the Sugar Act of 1764, which placed a substantial levy on molasses imported from the West Indies, combined with three years of British occupation during the Revolutionary War broke the back of most commerce in Newport. Also, American’s palates and pocketbooks preferred the less expensive spirits derived from corn and grain in the southern and western regions of the nation.

Tew Rum Logo as seen in American Public House Review

Today liquor is once more being produced on Aquidneck Island. The brewers at NEWPORT STORM are crafting a traditional dark rum, called THOMAS TEW, named after a favorite son and beloved buccaneer of 17th century Newport. It seems the citizenry have always maintained more than cordial relations with those who used their ships to procure an ill-gotten bounty. During the reign of Prohibition Newport would willingly embrace a new breed of high seas highwaymen. The island provided protection, cover and a market for the whiskey that would be carried back to shore by the powerful speed boats, that would offload the hooch from Canadian vessels anchored beyond the jurisdictional reach of naval authority. THE RUM RUNNER II was one of those pesky craft that eluded and survived the guns of the U.S. Coast Guard.  Today, with a cargo of tourists instead of toddies, she continues to cut an impressive wake through the waters of Narragansett Bay.


photo courtesy of cruisenewport.com 
Rum Runner as seen in American Public House Review

Perhaps it was the pedigree of the boat that so endeared this classic Elco motor yacht to my wife and I. After all, she was originally commissioned by two Garden State gangsters, and we both hailing from New Jersey, and the fact that my wife’s family dabbled in the bootlegging trade, made our immense pride understandable. So for fifteen summers we have made the pilgrimage to Newport in order to make the now countless jaunts and many new friendships aboard the RUM RUNNER II.



The bar at THE WHARF PUB in Newport, RI as seen in American Public House Review
THE BAR AT THE WHARF PUB


Wharf Pub sign as seen in American Public House ReviewUnfortunately we discovered early on that even the best conditioned sea legs must on occasion walk the land. Se we needed to find a suitable perch between our adventures at sea. “Poseidon Be Praised!” we happened upon THE WHARF PUB, which was located just a few short steps from the dock where our ride was berthed between trips. Here in this cozy little room was everything a soul needed after a couple of hours of challenging the spray and chop of the north Atlantic: good company, great beer, superb wine and, if need be, a warming bowl of chowder.

The first time I entered THE WHARF PUB my eyes immediately caught sight of the handiwork of Peter Austin and Alan Pugsley. There served by way of a beer engine and hand pump was the pride of England’s Ringwood Brewery, Old Thumper Special Ale! This alone was reason enough to make this pub my onshore home in Newport.



Bottle cork scrimshaw in The Wharf Pub as seen in American Public House review

Bottle cork scrimshaw Tikis in The Wharf Pub as seen in American Public House Review
BOTTLE CORK SCRIMSHAW TIKIS

BY ANDREW McCARTHY & RYAN LYNCH



Over the years Fran and I have met a wonderful cast of characters on both sides of the bar. Our usual congenial host has been Andrew T. McCarthy; but on occasion another fine son of the old sod, Ryan Lynch has provided an ample dose of Rhode Island hospitality. Both gentlemen have a penchant for an unusual art form that I call, for lack of a better term, Bottle Cork Scrimshaw. Here again is one more singular reason to pull up a stool at this bar.

During life’s many journeys we have shared this planetary vessel with all sorts of passengers, from first class to steerage, from box seats to bleachers. And in every instance we all seem to be waiting either literally or metaphorically for our ship to come in. When in Newport, I fancy a wait at THE WHARF PUB!



Newport Harbor as seen in American Public House Review
NEWPORT HARBOR

HOME
BLOG
BACKBAR
JUKEBOX
PUBLICAN'S PERCH
AD INFO
ABOUT US
CONTACT US
FREE SUBSCRIPTION
COCKTAILS