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Craft Distillery Brings Dominican Spice Rum to Red Hook

RED HOOK — Step aside, Bacardi.

Cacao Prieto is launching their version of spiced rum this summer, using a century-old recipe straight from the Dominican Republic.

The handwritten recipe for “Mamajuana,” as the rum is called, was passed down from founder Daniel Prieto Preston’s great grandfather who emigrated from Spain to the Dominican Republic in 1989.

It took a few years for Preston to decipher the recipe, he said, one that uses a variety of bushes and vines that are local to his fatherland.

“It’s a cross between a rum and a green chartreuse,” he said, describing the rum’s flavor as aromatic with complex herbal notes.                            

Preston started the Red-Hook based Cacao Prieto three years ago, a shop that produces craft spirits and bean-to-bar chocolate from organic Dominican cacao grown in their Dominican family farm in Santiago. They also distill a small batch, cacao-based liqueurs and rums.

The name “Mamajuana” comes from the Spanish colonial period in the Dominican Republic. Using a concoction of roots, vines, leaves and barks kept in large blown glass bottles called “Demi-Johns,” the Spanish created their own version of the local drink.

Over the course of time, the word “Demi-John” was morphed into variations like “Demi-Jane,” “Mama-Jane” and finally, “Mamajuana.”

“It was a fun genealogy trip for me,” said Preston.