Discovering great rums at the bar counter - introducing the Velier Tasting Club and The Jerry Thomas Show

3 novembre 2023


From the cooperation of Jerry Thomas Speakeasy, the communication agency Unfollow and Velier come two unprecedented, completely unconventional projects - a unique opportunity to learn about and taste hard-to-come-by rum and enjoy an innovative TV show, where showbiz stars let their hair down before top-level rums selected and presented by Luca Gargano. 

The cooperation between Velier and Jerry Thomas Speakeasy - which opened 13 years ago in the heart of Rome - continues with two unprecedented projects. 

After inaugurating a new space called Bar Room, with only sixteen seats and a focus on top-notch spirits, wines and champagnes, Jerry Thomas Speakeasy's first innovative idea is offering enthusiasts the chance to taste unique and generally very hard-to-come-by rums. The second idea is producing a full-fledged TV talk show on the culture of drinking and "bar talk". 

But first things first. 

The Velier Tasting Club and Rome's most famous speakeasy

Jerry Thomas is well-known as one of the most popular bars in Italy. Like any speakeasy, it's characteristically inspired from the historic illicit establishments active in America during Prohibition and pays homage to the original "speakeasys" of the time, when bars were a secret, illegal business and only granted entry to customers who knew the secret password. 

But what Jerry Thomas mainly stands out for is the quality of the drinks it offers patrons, which is the bar’s guiding principle. In fact, this Trastevere speakeasy was founded precisely with the idea of bringing back a now-forgotten mixing style and to provide colleagues, enthusiasts and generally curious people with a place to experiment and share their experiences. 

The years following the bar's opening were a time of traveling, researching, studying, cultural exchange, and seminars. This continuous commitment allowed Jerry Thomas Speakeasy to be included in the World's 50 Best Bar list six times. 

Today, after thirteen years in business, "The Jerry" remains one of the main go-to places for mixology in Italy. And it's the bar's focus on searching for and promoting quality spirits that eventually led to a cooperation with Velier on two unique, innovative projects. 

To start with, founders Roberto Artusio, Leonardo Leuci, Antonio Parlapiano and Alessandro Procoli are now offering customers of the newly opened Bar Room the opportunity to enjoy a unique experience called Velier Tasting Club. Upon reservation, you can taste rare and fine bottles of rum in the cozy, intimate atmosphere of the small bar inspired from the luxurious carriages of the Orient Express. 


The Velier Tasting Club offers the bar's patrons a selection of extraordinary, hard-to-find rums, opening unique, valuable bottles which many enthusiasts have never had the opportunity to taste and Velier has been keeping in store for years. 

Curated under the supervision of Luca Gargano, the bottle selection makes it possible to take unique rums out of the speculative market and restore them to the purpose for which they were originally intended - being poured and enjoyed. 

It's a way to give people the chance to taste labels that have left a mark in the global alcohol industry but are usually only admired without being opened. Here, on the other hand, they can be ordered by the glass, making them more accessible both in terms of availability and price.

A video series was also produced promoting the initiative and the rums offered in partnership with the communication agency Unfollow Advertising, which was directly involved in the entire creative process. The videos will soon be online and will feature Luca Gargano and Leonardo Leuci describing the rums chosen for the project.

The Jerry Thomas Show, the first talk show about real

The second project that sees Jerry Thomas cooperating with Velier and the Unfollow agency is all about communication and is designed to target a larger public than Rome's bar goers. 

It's an actual talk show featuring the evocative and iconic speakeasy as a backdrop and meeting place for a series of videos openly celebrating the concept of "bar talk", while also giving ample space to the culture of good drinking as well as insights into a variety of areas. 

The show, which recently debuted online with the first video, takes place inside Jerry Thomas Speakeasy. Episode after episode, different celebrities from the world of entertainment, music and cinema will take turns engaging in relaxed, fun yet interesting "bar talk". 

The idea stems from the need to "go back to the roots of the bar", especially as regards communication. 

As Leonardo Leuci from Jerry Thomas explains, this need is particularly acute in an age "where the narrative is often trivialized, both by bartenders with their technical jargon and by customers with their superficial use of social media." This is what underlies the whole idea of bar - casual chatter over a good glass, sitting at the counter, meeting people with stories to tell and the pleasure of listening to them, as well as learning more about and exploring different tastes and lands. 

As Leuci points out,

"Dalí, Picasso and Hemingway used to drink together in the bistros of Paris... this is what The Jerry Thomas Show is all about, friends with things to say sitting together at the counter, sharing stories from their personal life or from their line of work - music, cinema and entertainment." All of which doesn't mean compromising on product quality - in fact, quite the opposite. "Of course people drink on the Jerry Thomas Show, and drink well at that - always holding high the banner of quality and authenticity, the pillars that have always inspired the work of Jerry Thomas and Velier."

Sitting at the counter of the Jerry Thomas Speakeasy and the new Bar Room, some of the most celebrated and popular actors, singers and artists will participate in a series of videos placing the drinking culture center stage. Although it's mainly intended for entertainment, the show will include cultural highlights where viewers will learn more about and travel through the world of spirits.

The Rum Season: the first season will be all about rum

The first season of the show will be entirely devoted to rum. In addition to a different celebrity every time, each episode will feature the regular participation of Luca Gargano, aka "the king of rum" as he's nicknamed in the show. 

In each episode, he will be taking the floor for a few minutes to talk about a different rum. 

Throughout the season, viewers will listen to Luca's own voice as he explains the specificities and tells stories about this great spirit, exploring distilleries and fine bottles of rum from legendary names like Neisson, Hampden, Veritas, River Antoine, Clairin, Papa Rouyo.

Opening the season as a guest in the first episode is actor Francesco Montanari, famous for TV series like Romanzo Criminale and Il Cacciatore, as well as for playing lead roles in many a successful film and theater show. He'll get the ball rolling by talking about himself as well as various other topics in an amusing - and amused - way.