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Locally Made Libations: Pirate Rums to Brews with Views

Ahh, Rum. The Pirate’s drink of choice. So it makes sense that Key West, a city of modern-day pirates, would have their own distilleries… 3 in fact! But, lucky for our beer-drinking day-trippers, The Rock also features two significant breweries that are equally as delicious. One of the best ways to help your hometown homies get a feel for your visit to our mini Caribbean Vegas is to literally give them a taste of it. So venture on your own spirits crawl through these 5 distilleries & breweries, and do yourself AND your friends a favor—bring some back!

Good luck not drinking it before you get home…

Key West 1st Legal Rum Distillery

Key West First Legal Rum Distillery's main warehouse room with still and barrels

When barrels line the walls, you know something “spirited” is happening here. Photo // Old Town Manor

With a litany of rums, Legal Distillery gets its name from being the first to officially make rum “legally” in Key West. The distillery is nestled on Simonton St, almost secretively, giving a nod to the bootlegging rum runners of olde. It’s fun in there. The barrels are stacked high. Paul, a trained chef, gives a culinary twist to distilling making sure all his batches are palate worthy. The rum names, like Duval Street Spiced Rum & 105 Simonton Rum, are just as creative as some of his flavors. They honor Key West in all the best ways.


Key West Distilling

Key West Food Tour guide pours spirit tastings for tour guests at Key West Distilling

Tasting the fruits of their labor. Photo // TripAdvisor

Key West Distilling is a bit of a jack of all trades making everything from vodka & gin to rum & whiskey. But don’t let their product reach mistake them for lack of focus. Jeff Louchheim, the Chief Distiller, is more than particular on how his products should be made and taste using only real botanicals and spices to infuse his products with. Key West Food Tours makes a stop here on our Southernmost Food Tour as the grand finale. Who doesn’t want to have a tasting from their Boat Bar that’s surrounded by full scale Key West murals painted by local mural artist Rick Worth? Just watch out for sea legs.


Papa’s Pilar

Hemingway Rum Company's Papa's Pilar Blonde and Dark Solera aged rum blends atop a wooden pedastal in front of distillery.

The young buck in town. Photo // Twitter

The newcomer to the neighborhood, Papa’s Pilar, has been making waves lately. They produce 2 premium sipping rums that are sourced from rums around the Caribbean, Central America and Florida and blended in a Solera layered barrel process that is easier to fully appreciate on a tour through their shiny new facility. Since it’s linked to the Hemingway name and family, you can expect a nod to America’s original “Most Interesting Man in the World” as well. The rum that they will distill in the renovated historic tobacco warehouse that their custom pot still sits within will become a part of the recipe in both their Dark and Blonde expressions and they will also distill and blend craft batches that will only be tasted and sold here in Key West. Not a rum drinker, snag some cool Papa’s Pilar swag at the well-stocked Trading Post nonetheless…


The Waterfront Brewery

front entrance view of underwater scene mural and wooden welcome sign

The Brewery blends into the wharf well with it’s roof to floor aquatic murals. Photo // Old Town Manor

For my non-rum drinkers, Waterfront Brewery has you covered…sorta. Half of the huge facility is open against docks or exposed overlooking them–giving way to one of Key West’s best views with brews. Night or day, and (more importantly) rain or shine, Waterfront has a full dining menu and a loaded game room fit for the entire family. They also give tours of their brewing facility at every Thursday & Saturday for $10 that includes a pint of beer and a souvenir glass. Oh, and it just so happens to be the finale stop on Key West Food Tours’ Seafood Lover Tour!


Bone Island Brewing

hand crafted Bone Island logo sign made with beach wood and shells

A hidden gem. Photo // Blogspot

Bone Island Brewing is a diamond in the rough! Not the “rough” however–It’s actually in the Restaurant Store on Eaton Street! Their tap room boast of a lineup of craft beers designed to quench a tropical thirst. Paradise, by the Pint!, they call it! Bone Island’s “Garagemahal” only opens up during special events, but the beers are always available to order at Cole’s Peace, an artisan sandwich also inside the main store. It’s Conch owned and operated, so it’s Key West to the core. Respect.



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