Tom Hudson had always been a wine man.
In fact, he even opened a high-end restaurant — Domaine Hudson in Wilmington, Del. — built on the premise that the wine list always comes first, even before the menu. And in the early days of the restaurant, if you dropped by and ordered a bloody mary or Manhattan to enjoy at the bar while waiting for your table, you would have been well advised to have brought your own mixings.
“I think we might be able to fix you a basic martini,” a young barkeep once told me hopefully while polishing the huge stock of wine glasses. “Until a few years ago, I had never even tasted most spirits,” Hudson says with his trademark sheepish grin.
An accountant by trade, he felt the need to get away from it all one day and asked a travel executive as she was closing shop where he could fly to the following morning. He let her make the choice and ended up in Negril, Jamaica the next day. Hudson never quit going there, and recently he sold his successful eatery (which is maintaining his name) to build what he says is a nondescript house on his Caribbean paradise and mostly chill out.
And so he came to embrace one spirit — rum. “All the people I met down there drank rum,” he says by explanation, but Hudson saw no need to add fruit juice or Coke to it. After all, would he mix anything with his Colgin cabernet or his Le Cadeau pinot noir?
Within a few short years, Hudson put together an excellent amateur’s collection of sipping rums during his travels and perusal of spirits shops in Wilmington and New York. He also received gifts from patrons and friends who decided to become enablers of his passion.
So the other day, Tom told me he was tired of hearing me write about high-priced cognacs and other brandies. Come over and drink rum with me, was his invitation. It sounded like a great way to while away a weekday afternoon when there were no football games on television.
Evenly spaced on Hudson’s dining room table were 24 open bottles of rum, which he had culled from his collection of more than 100 bottles. “Hey, mon!” he said, greeting me with a spreadsheet of all his rums with information on their prices, provenances, and purchase data. (Did I mention that Hudson is an accountant?)
“After a while, you can tell which country they come from by their terroir,” he said excitedly. Rum terroirs? (Did I mention he was a wine man?)