Good Morning, Good Morning! I’m reporting to all of you out there from a space that has likely been a beloved watering hole for each and every one of you over the years. A space with a panoramic view of the Cruz Bay waterfront from each and every bar stool and lounge table in the house. A space, once home a renowned $3 you call it happy hour, that now boasts deliciously fresh food and thoughtful craft cocktails with frozen drinks on tap. A space within stumbling distance from the ferry dock and sandy white shore of Cruz Bay. Ladies and Gentlemen, Rum Hut has undergone some incredible menu expansions and improvements over the past few months under the watchful eye of its new husband-and-wife management and culinary team. And, today, I want to shed some light on the amazingness happening in this beloved corner of your favorite island.
Before I get too far into this, I want to call out the elephant in the room…YES, we all miss the three-dollar-you-call-it happy hours that Joe’s Rum Hut was once widely known for. Trust me, I spent many an afternoon during my first years on St. John soaking in the sun with the sand between my toes and a $3 Patron margarita in my hand! But, let’s face it, $3 doesn’t get you much these days and bringing back that idyllic and packed to the walls happy hour simply isn’t an option with today’s rising costs. But, after tasting the food and cocktails from the comfort of a quiet corner table with a view at the newly re-branded Rum Hut…Well, I’d trade all the $3 cocktails in the world for the Colossal Crab Bao Buns any day!
Chef Nathan Bohning and his front of the house super star wife, Laura Valente, took the management helm of Rum Hut in November of 2022 and, since, have been working diligently to re-energize the food, drinks and staff to equalize the products with the beautifully, Post-Irma, remodeled space. Chef Nathan’s lunch and dinner menu brings Caribbean ingredients, Asian inspiration and fresh flavors to the table, while still incorporating an elevated “bar food” aspect.
Light bites, such as the conch fritters and pork gyoza (each of which are featured on both the lunch and dinner menus), are executed with perfection and are uniquely complemented by the chef’s secret recipe hot sauce or pique (Puerto Rican hot sauce). The lunch menu, offered from 11AM-5PM features a crunchy chicken sandwich on brioche with a creamy Sriracha coleslaw and Tempura battered (mahi) fish and chips.
At 5Pm daily, the switchover to the dinner menu begins, which is where the real culinary fun begins…A beautiful Ribeye steak with Caribbean chimichurri and braised beef short rib with house made kimchi coleslaw and sticky rice both jump off the menu at me with a bit of nostalgia.
You see, Chef Nathan spent time as the Executive Chef at both Asolare and Sushi St. John, among other culinary venues on St. John, at different points in time. And, having worked with him at both of these locations, I recognize a ton of the components on this menu. And, I am elated to be able to revisit some of these flavors again! Trust me>>the kimchi, tamarind BBQ sauce and chimichurri are just a few of the accoutrements on this menu that you do not want to miss!
Laura has been working diligently on expanding the cocktail program at Rum Hut to include an assortment of fresh, fun and vibrant beverages with a beach ready vibe. She and the bar team have created some creative cocktails utilizing local spirits such as Pussers Rum (BVI), Mutiny Vodkas (STX) and Three Queens Gin (STT).
Try the Lavendar Lady featuring the Three Queens Gin, cucumber-lime vodka and Creme de Violette while you relax and watch the boats come into the bay after a day at sea (I promise, you will want another, and then another!).
But, in addition to these stylized cocktails, you’ll also find a lot of elevated (and favorite) island drinks on the cocktail menu. A Pussers’ Painkiller, Bushwhackers on tap and the newly created Hut Rum Punch (super flavorful but not too sweet!) staand out on the menu for those of you looking to inaugurate your visit to St. John in an “old school” fashion.
Oh, and you won’t hear the drone of blenders drowning out the sounds of the nearby waves on the shoreline at this Rum Hut. No, a rotating selection of frozen drinks are offered, not by the whir of a blender, but by the unassuming hum of three cocktail machines cranking out pina coladas, raspberry lemonades, mojitos, Bushwhackers and passionfruit margaritas (to name a few).
In addition to her cocktail duties, Laura has been working hand-in-hand with the staff in order to elevate the service and efficiency at Rum Hut where you can simply hang by the bar and order a delicious cocktail to take to the beach or grab a table or bar stool on a first-come first-served basis. For larger parties, Rum Hut encourages you to arrive before 6PM or after 8PM if you would like your party to dine together.
You’ll also likely notice some changes to the physical appearance of the familiar space. Soft green touches throughout the interior and larger tables with comfy cushions line the perimeter. Oh, and both bathrooms are now up and running…I think for the first time since the re-opening!
Rum Hut is located in the center of Wharfside Village and is accessible from either side of the corridor (via Beach Bar or past Parrot Club coming from town). Oh, and if you are staying at Wharfside Village Hotel, they are located conveniently around the corner from the temporary check-in desk, near Vibe St. John. So, if your room isn’t ready quite yet, you can check in and bide your time with the sights and sounds of the sea and a delightful beverage in hand (Oh, and they have cubed ice! If you know, you know 😉 ).
Rum Hut is open Monday-Saturday for lunch service from 11AM-5PM, dinner from 5PM-8:30PM and Happy Hour from 3PM-6PM. Next time you are visiting, stop by for a bite and a drink and say hello to Nathan, Laura and the awesome staff in this beautifully familiar space with spectacular views and now, an incredible food and beverage menu that is sure to make you leave with a smile. For updated menus, hours and special happenings, follow along with Rum Hut on Facebook and/or Instagram. If you have a large party and are interested in hosting a private event with amazing food and drinks in this beautiful space, please send them an email to arrange.