Three friends team up to fill Raleigh’s liquor void
by Catherine Currin
Three high school buds decided to barrel up to the Raleigh liquor business. Matt Grossman, John Benefiel, and Chris Mendler co-founded Raleigh Rum Company in 2014, on top of families and full-time jobs. It was worth it, they figured, because local rum used to be hard to come by. Co-founder Matt Grossman says the trio was interested in the craft beer culture, and as a byproduct soon realized that not many craft beverage makers were distilling liquor. “As a whole, North Carolina distilleries are just a small sector of liquor sold in the state.”
And so Raleigh Rum was born. Why rum? “It fits our personality. We’re laid-back, and wanted a laid-back spirit,” says Grossman. “All of our flavors are unique and bold. Plus it’s made locally.”
After acquiring permits and planning, the company launched their first white rum in April 2015. Spiced and sweet dark followed soon after. Their newest bottle has a kick to it: Carolina Reaper Rum, named for the spicy regional pepper. Smooth rum infused with the pepper’s spice is a unique way to take your bloody mary or margarita to the next level. This month, they’ve teamed up with Larry’s Coffee for decadent, high-fueled cocktails. Larry’s, based in Raleigh, sells fair trade products, everything from tea to coffee beans to cold brew concentrate. Take the latter and shake it with Raleigh Rum’s sweet dark blend for a frothy, refreshing, and caffeinated mix.
You can taste for yourself at your neighborhood ABC store, or you can join in weekly public tours and tastings at the distillery every Saturday at 2 p.m.
2 ounces Raleigh Rum Company sweet dark rum
2 ounces Larry’s cold brew concentrate
1 ounce coconut cream
½ ounce simple syrup
Combine all ingredients into shaker with ice. Shake well, pour into highball glass, and serve.