Meet the trader: UK’s first Rhum Arrangé bar in Deptford 

Fazia preparing her unique cocktail. Pic: Francesca Rodriguez Broadbent 

Nestled along Deptford Broadway, Catford Rhum Arrangé is a cosy bar and café that offers a range of artisanal rum flavours alongside bites of food.

You are greeted with slow jazz as you walk into the dim setting. The rustic interior complements the relaxed atmosphere and the display of different rum flavours creates a colourful array. 

When the pandemic struck, travel restrictions meant owners of Catford Rhum Arrangé, Sam and Fazia, could not go on their annual trip to the South of France, where their friends and family always had homemade Rhum Arrangé prepared for them. For that reason, the couple decided to start producing their own artisanal rum from their home in Catford. 

The Rhum Arrangé flavours are stored in jars. Pic: Francesca Rodriguez Broadbent 

Rhum Arrangé is a traditional French West Indian artisan drink which combines sugar cane juice with different fruits, spices and herbs. 

Fazia told ELL: “For me being stuck was like living in an open prison, knowing my family is in France, not being able to travel and having time to overthink. Just like that, [the government] kept taking our freedom.

“We started the business during the pandemic and once it was over, we started with the market. It [was] quite scary, thinking about the risk rather than the different opportunities. We just went for it to see what would happen, even though we hadn’t a clue what we were doing and would just learn along the way.” 

Catford Rhum Arrangé opened in October 2023 but had initially sold their homemade rum in markets around south London. Fazia told ELL: “It was very popular at the markets, and we realised that if you start something, people from [the] community will be very supportive. Just having the cat on the front of the shop and a colourful logo attracts people.” 

Fazia said about their unique design: “[Sam and I] did everything ourselves, from the design to the logo. When we agree with something, it works.”

Fazia is the owner of Catford Rhum Arrangé Pic: Francesca Rodriguez Broadbent 

Fazia told ELL: “We follow an old rum recipe that uses sugar cane juice rather than molasses. Most of the old British rum is molasses. We used to import the sugar cane juice from French distilleries, however, because of Brexit the tax is too much. We now import our sugar cane from a distillery in Barbados so it’s not fully French, however Barbados is known as the ancestor of rum.” 

She continued: “The first type of rum was medicinal, though they didn’t distil [the rum] at the time. It was Pierre Labatut who introduced the distillery technique, which came from the Arabs who started to distil perfumes. It was a mix and match of different skills around the world that brought rum together.” 

The owners of Catford Rhum Arrangé began using traditional family recipes and once more confident, Fazia began making her own balanced blends. The traditional recipe calls for the rum to be around 50% ABV (alcohol by volume) however, Catford Rhum Arrangé reduced theirs to 40% ABV to suit the British pallette. 

Catford Rhum Arrangé offers its customers flavours like banana, caramelised pear and plum hibiscus. When asked about their most popular flavours, Fazia told ELL: “People will follow the seasons. Rhum Arrangé requires fruit in season otherwise, it won’t work; we tried strawberry in the winter and it didn’t work.  

“In the summer, our lychee Rhum Arrangé cocktail is very popular. In the winter, the most popular flavour is vanilla, cinnamon and honey. The locals love it! After four months, a lot of locals are coming back. Everything here is unique, you won’t be able to find the same mixes anywhere else.” 

You can purchase Catford Rhum Arrangé’s unique rum flavours at: 

Vanilla, honey and cinnamon rum. Pic: Catford Rhum Arrangé 

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