Skip to content

People Profile: Vena Edmonds

Meet Vena Edmonds, a well known Philly bartender and rum evangelist.  Here’s our interview.


How and when did you become interested in rum?
Rum was nothing more than another spirit, until I began working at the Rum Bar in February of ’07, in Philly. After the 1st year it was clear that there was way more than I, or most people, considered about this diverse spirit.

How many rums are in your collection?
Good question. I actually had to count. 18 rums in my personal collection at home.

What is your favorite rum (or rums) in each category and why?
Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhh, that’s super tough! I love spiced rum! Always have. So even that category depends on my mood. I love Sailor Jerry on the rocks after a hard day, Monticristo Spiced, neat, just because & Chairman’s reserve spiced to use in mixed cocktails. Cachaca? Again, depends on my mood. For a quick shot? Yipioca Oro. Neat? Agua Luca, For a caipirinha? Anything, I don’t believe it matters when you’re mixing that much sugar and lime. Anejo rums are even tougher. Let’s just say Diplimatico, Atlantico, & Dos Maderas are among my favs. Rhum Agricole? I’ll take any Rhum JM product in a Hemingway Daiquiri!

Do you have a favorite rum bar?
I did.  However, there are still many rum bars I haven’t visited worldwide.

What is your regular cocktail?
As of late, it’s been a Sazerac. The wintry NE section of the country lends to my need for high powered old school cocktails.

Where is the best place to buy rum in my area.
Unfortunately, I live in a liquor control state. That makes it incredibly difficult to find anything interesting on the shelves of liquor stores in PA. I honestly can’t remember the last time I purchased rum in this state. I usually pick up rum when traveling internationally.

How long have you worked at Talula’s Garden and what is your focus?
I’ve worked at the garden for about 20 months & I love it! My focus is to assist in the creation of cocktails that are approachable, balanced, and food friendly. The owner & general manager have an amazing palate, eye for detail, and a combined bartending experience that is close to the number of years I’ve been on this planet! I really value their feedback when creating drinks & I’m thankful for their trust.

Which rum would you travel to buy?
I probably wouldn’t plan an entire trip around any spirit that I’ve never tasted. Or any spirit that I tasted and liked, for that matter. However, when I do travel, I ALWAYS pick up a bottle of something! ALWAYS. And I took 3 international trips in 2012 alone.

What are you going to be up to in 2013?
LOTS! The best way to connect with what I’m up to is social media. Right now, I looooooooooooooove Instagram. I can take pictures of cocktails, locations, ingredients, and all types of goodies! Follow me on IG @uporontherocks for the latest on everything!

Words of wisdom…
Everyone has something to teach you. Be open to it. Have fun. Make mistakes. Taste. Smile. Remember, we’re building drinks, not rockets.