PMD Pays it Forward to Puerto Rico
The South Bronx is undeniably influenced by its immigrant Puerto Rican community. Port Morris Distillery (PMD) has represented a piece of the island’s heritage since it officially opened in 2013. PMD specializes in traditional Puerto Rice moonshine, with recipes as diverse as Boricua culture. In celebration of the distillery’s fourth anniversary, PMD organized a fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
The party was a symbol of resilience. Neighbors rallied and brought in wholesale boxes of diapers and water. “We are trying to get this shipped through Aguadilla,” explained co-owner Rafael Barbosa. San Juan is harder to get to according to Barbosa, so they are trying an alternate route through another port city. It’s a team effort. PMD is collaborating with fellow Bronx Native and breakdancer Richard Colon, also known as Crazy Legs from the Rock Steady Crew. The shipment is expected to fly out next Friday with New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s relief effort.
Celebrating rather than mourning the island, PMD celebrated its rich heritage with salsa music, pitorro, and mofonguitos- a savory meat stuffed plantain hor 'd'oeuvres. Neighbors and visitors could hear the party from blocks away. The plume of smoke rising from the lechon - roasted pig - over an open fire carried scents of the island down the street. Fried favorites like mini empanadas, yucca fries, and codfish fritters (aka bacalaitos) were served to fuel an evening of dancing.
The highlight of the evening was PMD’s new family of pitorros. It’s more traditional shine and anejo are their legacy spirits. The company now distills twelve flavor-infused curados like Habanero, Honey, Pineapple, their spiced Coquito, to name a few. They're not afraid to experiment with more. “We are launching five more flavors of pitorro for the holidays,” says Barbosa, as well as Bronx made Vodka, part of their new Alpunto brand. “[The vodka] is for the Bronx” says Barbosa. His goal is to create a spirit that captures the heritage and culture of the borough.
The future is bright for PMD. “Our vision is completely different now,” shares Barbosa, in reference to their original dream for the distillery. Their initial goal was to give Puerto Rican moonshine the visibility and respect it deserved as an artisan spirit. Now, they use their platform to give back to the community and spearhead the brewing and distilling traditions of Port Morris.