Meet Pusser’s Rum Bartender on Deck Jeff Chaffin

mixologist on deck_jeff

Photo: Melissa Toms

Jeff Chaffin of Cane Rhum Bar in Charleston, South Carolina.

Please tell me about yourself. What is your background, and how did you end up as a bartender?
My Name is Jeff Chaffin. I live in Charleston, SC and am currently the bar manager at Cane Rhum Bar. I have been in the service industry for 13 years and have worked in every kind of restaurant from tiki beach bars to high-end chop houses. I moved to Charleston five years ago, and was the beverage manager at Blossom, here in Charleston, for four years. I most recently worked behind the bar at Husk while Cane was being built. I became a bartender after one hot summer of construction work.

What is your favorite rum drink?
Usually my favorite rum drink is the one in my glass but if you held a gun to my head and made me choose just one, right now I am in love with a cocktail that we make at Cane called the Instant Vacation. It is made up of white rum that has been infused with lemongrass and ginger, fresh lemon, orange juice, Velvet Felernum, and topped with our house-made ginger beer. For me, however, it’s purely situational. I love Painkillers when I’m on the beach, and have always been a fan of rum and tonic.

Please tell me about your personal connection to rum. Why choose rum over any other spirit?
With the exception of a five year stent in Veil, CO, I have spent most of my adult life on the coast. Personally, I don’t think there is a better day-off spirit than rum. The history of rum in the Southeast and the coast has always fascinated me, and I have a small obsession with pirates. My decision to choose rum, time after time, is simply because of its versatility.

What do you think the future holds for the industry?
The category of rum is rapidly on the rise. Tequila has already had its day in the sun. With the recent popularity of whisky, the demand for a while went through the roof, therefore, making the cost and demand go through the roof as well. Let’s face it, who can afford to drink a $100 bottle of bourbon on their day off? And frankly, vodka is just boring.

What inspires your creativity when it comes to making drinks?
I always look into the past for inspiration first, to research “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” cocktails by people such as Jeff Berry. What I do is always effected a lot by the season I am currently in. All of my cocktails have a great emphasis on using fresh ingredients, but mainly my inspiration comes from my day-to-day life.

Any other interesting facts? Hobbies? Special Talents?
I’ve recently been written up in The Post and Courier, have been mentioned on Eater a couple of times. I most recently did a live video shoot on Coastal Living which received over 20,000 hits on social media. As far as hobbies go, I do enjoy collecting rum. I have over 300 bottles in my collection. My favorite thing to do is spend Sunday afternoons on the beach with my fiancé Taylor and my dog Bruce.

How can people learn more about you?
You can join our Facebook page at Cane Rhum Bar or follow me on Instagram @rhumtender

mixologist on deck_st cecilia
Photo: Melissa Toms

St. Cecilia’s Society Punch:
1 pint Pusser’s Rum
1 pint brandy
12 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 sliced lemons
3 sliced grapefruits
1 1/2 lb. brown sugar
1 quart black tea

Infuse one pint Pusser’s Rum and one pint brandy with cloves, cinnamon sticks, sliced lemons, and sliced grapefruits over night. Strain everything off and combine with brown sugar and black tea. Store until sugar is dissolved. Serve 3 oz of the chilled infused liquid in a 5 oz coup glass. Top with Champagne. Garnish with a pineapple slice.