SinShip's 1930 Smoked Rum was the first peat-smoked rum on the market.
Back in the days of Prohibition, party boats would sit off the coast of San Diego and other California cities, just outside U.S. jurisdiction, where revelers could booze, gamble, and otherwise indulge.
“They had free taxi service out to them,” explains Mark Eicker, “They were popular with a lot of A-list celebrities: Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks.
Moralists onshore took to denouncing these boats as “sin ships,” which is the name Eiker and his wife Rozlyn have given their rum business. SinShip Spirits Co. grew out of a hobby creating liqueurs at home, but where the Eikers’ hearts truly lies is in booze culture that emerged immediately after prohibition ended.
“We both love rum, and we love tiki cocktails,” says Mark.
“We’ve got a little tiki bar here in the house,” adds Rozlyn, “We do cocktails most nights.”
The 12-ounce cans measure out to 19.5-percent alcohol by volume.
The couple operates SinShip Spirits out of Liberty Call Distilling in Spring Valley, where they began distributing specialty rums in spring 2019. Their initial releases have been less about producing grain to glass spirits, and more about refining imported Caribbean rum, whether by further distillation, or experimentation. For example, their 1930 smoked rum, inspired by Scotch whiskey, was the first peat-smoked rum to market, which the Eikers smoke with imported Irish peat moss.
However, since the pandemic began, the small startup lost a year’s worth of traction distributing to local bars and bottle shops, so the Eikers decided to speed up a plan to produce ready to drink tiki cocktails, in a can.
“Once the pandemic hit,” says Rozlyn, “we thought we needed to get something out there that would sell all by itself.”
Their first cans hit the shelves in late September, and they went with a tiki classic: the Zombie, first created in 1934 at O.G. tiki bar, Don the Beachcomber's. The 12-ounce cans measure out to 19.5-percent alcohol by volume, doling the usual tiki wallop with a combination of aged rum, fruit juices, plus the Eikers’ own recipes for falernum, grenadine, and cinnamon syrup.
The cans are expected to be the first in a series, but the couples’ tiki love runs deep, so future canned cocktails promise to be less mainstream. “We want to keep it fairly obscure,” says Mark, “so you’re probably not going to see a mai tai or pina colada.” Instead, they’re thinking about such drinks as the Shrunken Skull (rum with lime, grenadine, and cinnamon syrup) or Shark's Tooth (lime and pineapple juices, plus cherry liqueurs).
SinShip’s canned tiki cocktails during the pandemic will postpone — the Eikers hope only temporarily — other long term plans for the business, including production of aged rums, and their first grain to glass spirit, a 151 proof rum.