Few people drinking today distinctly remember Prohibition, but now we can all have a taste of that uniquely colorful era.
Montauk native Kimberly Sarris Royal says that she and her sister Kate Sarris “have poured ourselves into our brand, Montauk Rum Runners, in honor of our family’s long history in Montauk and restaurant operations during Prohibition. We have a ton of old family photos in our personal archive and lots of booze to share!”
The sisters’ great-grandparents Alma and Christian Handrup began running the Roadside Restaurant in the old Montauk Fishing Village in 1920 and on through the 1940s. Did they feed local rum runners? Kimberly says diplomatically, “All of Montauk was part of the rum running. There were only 26 families living there at the time. We won’t name names.” Was her own family involved in this illegal and lucrative activity? She and her sister both say no. Great-grandfather Handrup captained ocean liners that travelled from Brooklyn to Cuba, Mexican ports and Puerto Rico.
Kate asserts, “Rumrunning was an important part of Montauk history that we want to highlight.” Which is kind of a funny thing for the daughters of retired East Hampton Police Chief Todd Sarris to do. “We’re rebelling a little late in life,” says Kate, adding, “We’re not going to make scotch because he would drink it all.”
The sisters have brought their Montauk project to fruition with the support of their husbands and the local community. Their products—a bracing citrus gin, a honey-flavored whiskey and a sweet coconut rum—first hit shelves in September. They’re now available in over 30 outlets across Long Island and at Bowery & Vine in Manhattan. It’s all quite legal and quite local—Montauk Rum Runners is being produced by Long Island Spirits in Baiting Hollow and is available for tasting onsite there.
The sisters dream of someday having a tasting room of their own. Their plans for future flavors are top secret but they do admit to a certain nostalgia for their mother’s beach plum jelly.
For more information on Montauk Rum Runners visit montaukrumrunners.com.