Smuggler’s Cove Cocktails Go Global with Virgin Atlantic

If you’re reading Rumporter, you’re probably already familiar with the name Martin Cate. After opening Smuggler’s Cove, an award-winning rum and Tiki bar in San Francisco, Cate continued to make an impressive mark on the global cocktail scene with a second bar, co-creation of the outstanding O.F.T.D. rum, and authoring a book on Tiki with his wife Rebecca.

Fortunately, it’s no longer necessary to make the trek to California to sample his rum-focused classics and creations. Virgin Atlantic Airways has partnered with Smuggler’s Cove to offer a selection of six of their drinks on the local Upper Class Clubhouse cocktail menu for 2017. If you’re not flying through SFO, they’ll also be offering one of his cocktails on all other clubhouse menus around the world. And, don’t worry if you’re not flying a fancy enough class to gain access to the Upper Class lounge; main cabin class passengers can by a day pass for a mini-escape Polynesian style on their layover, too.

 We found some time to catch up with Martin to discuss this exciting new project.

Forrest collins: How did this current partnership with Virgin come about?

Martin Cate: We connected through a mutual friend, and the partnership was originally with my gin bar, Whitechapel.  We’re still offering food items from Whitechapel at the SFO Clubhouse, in fact.  Virgin wanted to work with bars that were featured on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, and Smuggler’s Cove was a natural fit.


FC: How did you decide which cocktails to feature in the club houses?

MC: We wanted to offer a selection of both classic exotic cocktails and Smuggler’s Cove originals.  It’s our goal to show that when properly made, vintage exotic cocktails aren’t artificial and syrupy, but quite complex and refreshing.  And then we wanted to show how we carry on that tradition with our original drinks.  Otherwise, there were really no limitations. The SFO Bar Manager Justin is well skilled in craft cocktails and making any of our custom ingredients was a snap.

FC: Virgin is planning on filming a VR (virtual reality) Cove experience to serve alongside the drinks in the clubhouses.  Have they completed filming and can you tell us a little about this? Any details on how the filming can successfully convey the feeling of being in the Cove?

MC: We have finished filming it and it was a blast!  The videos are really effective with great lighting and background sounds – plus we filled the place with colorfully-attired tiki lovers so it’s a real feast for the eyes!  I think people will really get a kick out of it.

FC: If you could jump on a Virgin flight right now and head to any destination to appreciate some rum (besides your own bar!) where would it be?

MC: I’d probably jump to London and see my friends at Merchant House in the heart of the City. It’s a fantastic destination for rum (and gin!), with great staff and a wonderful atmosphere

Smuggler’s Cove Cocktails

FC: This partnership has taken you worldwide and you’re set to be seen in Virgin clubhouses through 2017.  Do you have any other upcoming partnerships or projects that will see smuggler’s cove cocktails elsewhere?

 MC: Nothing is set in stone yet, but who knows where the year will take us!

 FC: Anything else you want to share about this partnership?

MC: It’s been a real blast to work with Virgin on this- their team is first rate, and the execution is top notch.  Always excited to hear what’s next up their sleeve!

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