January 14: Sailor Jerry

sailor-jerryTattoo artist Norman Keith Collins, better known as Sailor Jerry was born today in 1911. Now, if you’re a seasoned drinker you’re probably familiar with the rum called Sailor Jerry, but do you know anything about the man himself?

Sailor Jerry was born in landlocked Reno, Nevada. His nickname came about fairly early in his life, when his father said that seven year old Norman was as stubborn as the family mule, whose name was Jerry. As a teenager, Collins learned the art of tattoos and when he joined the Navy at age 19, he was exposed to the art of the South Seas and Far East.

After leaving the Navy, Sailor Jerry took his talents to Honolulu’s Chinatown where he opened an eponymous tattoo parlor. Other tattoo artists were jealous of both Collins’ skill with the needles and his bold colored inks. One artist once asked Sailor Jerry to share the secret of how he got his colors so brilliant. Jerry explained that he simply put a little sugar in his ink. That night, the rival tattoo artist put a little sugar in his ink before leaving for the night. When he arrived back at the shop the next morning, he found that roaches had infested his inks. From that day forward, no other established tattoo artist was foolish enough to ask for the secret of Jerry’s success.

However, Sailor Jerry did share his secrets with a few select pupils. Two decades after Collins’ death,  two of his protégés, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone, created Sailor Jerry Ltd. to spread awareness of the late tattoo artist’s signature style. The company sells t-shirts and various other merchandise while also seeking to teach the populous about the meaning behind the many tattoo designs that Sailor Jerry helped popularize. However, as we mentioned earlier, the most famous Sailor Jerry Ltd. product is the Sailor Jerry rum; a tasty 92 proof spiced rum that features a Sailor Jerry hula girl on the label.

So, if you have a bottle of Sailor Jerry on hand, why not use it to make a Tahitian Tattoo? It’s a wonderful blended tropical drink with a nice combination of rums and fruit.

Tahitian Tattoo

  • 1 1/2 ounces Dark Rum
  • 1 ounce Coconut Rum
  • 1/2 ounce Spiced Rum
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces mango puree
  • 1 banana
  • 2 ounces coconut cream

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and pour over ice into a tall glass or a Tiki mug. Garnish with a pineapple.

Tomorrow: History’s weirdest pseudo-natural disaster.

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