After a trip to Chicago where they walked into a liquor store and discovered a variety of deep cut rums not available in Orlando, Jay and two others decided to launch the Florida Rum Society, a community group committed to the education and experience of rum and bringing high quality rums to the state of Florida.
Jay Cocorullo is a native Floridian who grew up in Stuart, FL and moved to Orlando to work for Walt Disney World after graduating from the University of Florida. His interest in rum started after he and his wife purchased a home in Windermere where he turned a spare room inside the house into his own personal Tiki Bar.
“I picked up the Smuggler's Cove book and dove deep into the tiki cocktail history, the rums that were used to make these cocktails and the rums you need to purchase in order to recreate these types of cocktails.”
Rum was Jay’s spirit of choice but his knowledge was mostly centered around the mass produced, mass marketed and easy to find rums like Bacardi, Captain Morgan, etc. As he dove deeper into the world of rum the diversity and options really appealed to him. As he began to educate himself he started to wonder why there seemed to be a huge gap in rum knowledge and why he couldn’t find many of the rums he learned about anywhere in Florida.
“During our trip to Chicago, we picked up a few bottles and brought them home. As we were home sort of sipping and diving into each of them, we asked ourselves, how come these bottles aren't readily available in Florida? Then, as things happen (as they do) after a few drinks, we said, well, we're going to try to do something about that, and we started the Florida Rum Society to try to elevate the rum conversation in Florida.”
When Jay, Salty Joel and the Rum Doc started FRS they would travel to bars and ask them what type of rums they had. Jay laughed as he said, “After showing us the standard rums, we’d tell them they should have better rums and we’re from the Florida Rum Society and we’re supporting that.” The guys knew that no one would know who they were, but they enjoyed the reactions they got, which were always, “You’re the what?” or “So?”
As the Florida Rum Society has now passed 4 years, the story of no one knowing who they are has changed a bit. They now have a solid growing community on Facebook and Instagram and have developed great relationships with establishments such as the Bellhop and Otto’s High Dive, the establishment we met Jay at to do this story.
Justin Levaughn, owner of Otto’s High Dive in the Milk District has been very supportive of the Florida Rum Society and has built a fantastic collection of rum, and from our own experience, their food and rum cocktails are worth the trip (the Pandamerican cocktail, Ribeye and Lobster Escabeche 😙🤌)!
There’s no cost to join the Florida Rum Society and they use Facebook and an email newsletter to communicate with everyone in their community. Many of the members on Facebook share photos, ask questions and offer recommendations and recipes within the group.
The group also coordinates meet ups and tastings in the Orlando area and have recently begun coordinating events in Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
For places like the Bellhop in Orlando, members of FRS also receive a 20% discount off their bill.
For life in Orlando, Jay sees it as a great place to explore and experience life. He sees it as a great place to also raise a family and do things that go way beyond the theme parks.