Words by Jesse Serwer—
New York City has become home to a thriving spirits business in recent years but this renaissance for the most part has not included rum. Recently, however, a local doctor of Puerto Rican heritage, Renee Hernandez, opened the first distillery in the Bronx since prohibition. And, though Hernandez’s company, Tirado, also makes three types of whiskeys and a maple liqueur, it specializes in pitorro, or canita—fruit-infused, Puerto Rican moonshine rum. The story of Tirado, which launched in 2011, is told in an article in Thursday’s New York Times, which you can read here.
Thanks to its strength (it’s usually well above 80 proof) and perhaps the influence of local commercial distilleries, pitorro is generally illegal in Puerto Rico. As such, the drink, which is particularly popular during the holidays, has a cult status among drinkers. Unsurprisingly, Tirado’s just slightly more tame version (it’s an even 80 proof, or 40% alcohol per volume) of pitorro has proven to be quite popular among the Puerto Rican clientele at establishments such as Siete Ocho Siete in New Rochelle, NY. “They say, ‘Oh my God, it’s only a taste you get in Puerto Rico,” owner Lucas Lucido told the Times.
For now, Tirado products are only available in New York state, primarily at bars and stores in or near the Bronx. Here’s a partial list of where to buy.