BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — IPSWICH — Craft distiller Privateer International in Ipswich, the maker of Privateer Rum, has added a new member to its team. Kevin Martin, who is wrapping up his work as bar manager for Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks in Kenmore Square, will be the company’s new vice president for sales.
Martin will be responsible for heading up brand awareness for the rum distiller at 28 Mitchell Road.
For those who think of rum as a simple spirit that supplies the main ingredient of a rum and Coke, daiquiri or mojito, Privateer wants to change that perception.
Privateer’s amber rum is fermented, distilled, aged and batched in oak barrels that have their own personality, the company says. It’s a long, complicated process meant to draw out not only the flavors of the wooden barrels but a hint of the nearby salt marsh. It’s not the way many large, corporate rum distillers do it, Martin says.
When he joins the company full time in a couple of weeks, it will be Martin’s job as vice president of sales “to build the Privateer brand,” in addition to building a sales team and to “educate on rum,” as a press release puts it. He’ll also be speaking with bar managers about how rum can spice up a cocktail list, and he will promote events to help build the brand, among other duties.
The distillery was founded by Andrew Cabot and his friend Nelse Clark, with the rum created by head distiller Maggie Campbell.
Cabot is six generations removed from his historic namesake, Andrew Cabot, a merchant, rum distiller and successful privateer during the Revolutionary War. The company is 3 years old, has five full-time employees and employs some part-time help.
It is privately held and has doubled in size each year. Profits are being used to improve and grow, according to the company.
“I never knew I had a passion for cocktails and mixing drinks,” said Martin, 32, who lives in Brighton. Martin came to Eastern Standard as a bartender after spending three years in Hawaii tending bar and enjoying the beach.
He grew up in Connecticut and has a culinary arts/business degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. When he came back to the East Coast seven years ago, the first job he landed was as a bartender at Eastern Standard.
After a couple of years tending bar, he moved up to assistant bar manager, then bar manager. Martin said his culinary background, his understanding of how different flavors work together, helped him.
Before going to college, he was told that if he wanted to work in the restaurant industry, he should learn to do everything, including picking the wine. His job as bar manager meant he picked the cocktails and beer, oversaw scheduling and inventory, and he even dealt with media who would come by. He has won cocktail competitions and been published in various cocktail guides.
The upscale restaurant is often packed before Red Sox games, and Martin said it’s an eatery that many Red Sox players frequent in the off-season.
About eight months ago, he approached Eastern Standard’s bar director, Jackson Cannon, about a career switch. He had been introduced to Privateer Rum about a year ago during some promotional events. When it was known he was looking for another opportunity, they reached out.
“Privateer came to me, and we started chatting,” Martin said. He said he turned down offers to go to work for bigger beverage companies.
”I wanted to work for something smaller but that has the ability to grow,” he said. The ability to have creative freedom was another plus.
In the end, it’s the rum that sold Martin, who said it will be his job to spread the word about its versatility behind the bar.
”Every step Privateer takes is laborious,” Martin said, “but it makes sense in the end when you taste the product.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.