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Q&A: Mixing It Up With Ten to One Rum

This Black History Month, we’ve shined a spotlight on the Black-owned brands behind the bars of our NYC hotels. Topping off the list? Ten to One, a rum label that has taken the spirits world by storm.

Since its launch in 2019, Ten to One’s founder Marc Farrell has signed on Ciara (yes, that Ciara) as a co-owner, championed artist collabs with the likes of Devin B. Johnson, and consistently won international spirit competitions.

From February through March 15, guests at The Standard Grill and Café Standard can sip on passionfruit daiquiris mixed up with Ten to One’s Dark Rum. Every purchase will support One Love Community Fridge, a non-profit that works to eradicate hunger, food insecurity, malnutrition and the stigma associated with all three. 

A cocktail celebration in NO BAR toasted to the partnership with creatives like Kendall Miles, Kingsley Gbadegesin, Edvin Thompson & more. We mingled with Marc in between drinks to get the scoop on his wild ride, from the origins of Ten to One’s name to shattering perceptions about the rum industry. Read on below:


Perception is powerful in the spirit market. How has rum been perceived in the past? 

For too long, I think the rum category has suffered from a somewhat narrow and caricatured perception, beyond the shores of the Caribbean, often misrepresented by pirate themes and sugary slushy drinks. As a result, I think a lot of consumers in this market don't necessarily approach rum with the same reverence as they do some other spirits. When we really reflect on rum’s centuries-long history and heritage, a lot of it ends up getting lost in these old narratives. Ten To One aims to challenge that, and find contemporary yet authentic ways to shine a light on the spirit, and help consumers embrace rum as the versatile and sophisticated we know it to be! 


One of your taglines is “Not Your Spring Break Rum.” How would you reframe that narrative?

As a brand we’ve seen an enormous opportunity to reshape this narrative through a combination of elevating the liquid experience around rum and also showcasing the culture that surrounds it, in a different light. We talk a ton about consistently “challenging expectations”, and changing the way people taste, experience and talk about rum. One of the hallmarks of rum - and specifically Ten To One - is its versatility. We love to say  “anything you can do, rum can do better,” and so we’ll focus on showcasing our liquid in an amazing array of applications - from Rum Old Fashioneds to Manhattans, Negroni, Martinis - in addition to some of the traditional classics folks might be used to. 

As someone who was born and raised in Trinidad, I’ve always dreamed of building a brand that also shines a light on our culture in an authentic and aspirational way. In the Caribbean, rum is part of our social fabric, and plays a role in so many moments of celebration for us. That “art of celebration” is more than an activity for us… it’s a frame of mind and way of life. And with Ten To One we try to bring that same spontaneity, joie de vivre and communal spirit to life here in the US, creating amazing consumer connections along the way. 


Ten to One doesn’t shy away from the complicated history of rum production. Actually, that history seems like a catalyst for a new way of creating. How does your production process address historical wrongs in the rum market?

We’ve certainly done our best to honor and celebrate the history of rum production in a number of ways, while trying to shift consumers away from certain areas that have been somewhat problematic, such as limited transparency in the category, and the use of sugar and additives. As mentioned before, I think the very nature of our blends provides a great avenue to celebrate rum’s rich heritage, as we showcase to and educate the consumer on the many unique attributes brought to life from around the region - Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Guyana - in our blends. The question of sugar and additives is one that has long saddled the category, accompanied by limited clarity on “who made it and what exactly is in my rum?!” From the start, we’ve been very clear that none of our rums have any added sugar, color, or flavoring agents of any kind - a departure from many prior entrants in the rum category. That transparency dovetails really well with what I think is consumers’ growing expectations of the spirits industry at large. Many consumers out there are now looking to better understand what's in that bottle? What's in that glass? They're looking for cleaner alternatives with a clearer sense of authenticity and provenance, and Ten To One delivers on all of those fronts. 


Ciara is a co-owner of Ten to One and—obviously—we’re huge fans of hers as an artist and a businesswoman. Tell us a little bit about what it’s been like to collaborate with her? 

Ciara is amazing, and a force of nature! We met through mutual friends, and connected over her own early appreciation for the spirit, and the fact that she saw the same opportunity we were chasing within the space. From an entrepreneurial perspective, she has this genuine passion for partnering with brands that challenge the status quo, so it felt like the perfect moment to pioneer a renewed storyline for rum, together. Since she officially became an investor and co-owner in October 2021, we’ve had a blast; she understands and supports our efforts to change rum’s perception, while at the same time introducing us to a broader audience on a whole new level. 


Ten To One’s name is inspired by a quote from Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams—a message about Caribbean unity. On a personal level, what does that sentiment mean to you? 

So for a bit of backstory: the name Ten To One is inspired by the original Caribbean Federation, which consisted of 10 countries. As our Prime Minister at the time - Dr Eric Williams - famously said, "One from 10 equals 0." He was making the point that if you remove one from the collective, the whole thing falls apart. We really harnessed this idea for Ten To One in reference to these ideals of community, strength in numbers and the notion that we're stronger together than we are apart. That sense of unity and communal spirit is found in everything that we do, starting with the origin story of our rums, which bring together different distillation methods, provenance and terroir from around the region, into these uniquely singular blends.  The same can be said for the way in which our events and collaborations come to life — seeking to celebrate and uplift other Black and Caribbean artists and makers, be it the incredible Devin B. Johnson who designed our first Artist Edition bottle in honor of Black History Month, or the amazing performers who lit up our inaugural Ten To One Salon this February.


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