Interview: Sam and Faz, Creators of Catford Rhum Arrangé

Interview: Sam and Faz, Creators of Catford Rhum Arrangé

We first bumped into Sam & Faz, the amazing creators or Catford Rhum Arrangé, at their stall at Maple Road Market in Penge. Now, they’ve opened the UK’s first specialty Rhum Arrangé Bar & Café a stones throw from To Do List HQ in Deptford (48-49 Deptford Broadway).

We caught up with them to chat about the origins of Catford Rhum Arrangé, the new bar, inspirations, business advice, and Things To Do in London!

Interview: Sam and Faz, Creators of Catford Rhum Arrangé 1

Tell us about Catford Rhum Arrangé. How did you come up with the idea, and what makes it different?

Catford Rhum Arrangé is a venture born out of our love for the traditional French West Indies drink, rhum arrangé. Originating in the 18th century, this beverage is crafted by marinating fruits, herbs, and spices in agricole rum. The fruits have to be in season. Faz is a French resident of Catford for more than 18 years, and during the lockdown, we found comfort in making our own rhum arrangé using family recipes. We soon shared our various Rhum Arrangés with friends in the UK, and their appreciation for its unique taste inspired us to introduce this traditional drink to the UK, realizing it was relatively unknown here.

You’ve opened a bar in Deptford! Tell us all about it!

Yes, indeed! We are thrilled to have opened a bar in Deptford, fulfilling our dream of creating a French-inspired space – a small, intimate place where people feel welcome and comfortable. It’s what we call in French ‘un rad.’ The community’s response has been amazing and very supportive. In the morning, we offer coffee from Drury and viennoiserie from Boulangerie Jade. For lunch during colder weather, we serve homemade vegan soup and a variety of toasties. In the evenings we serve charcuterie, cheese, vegan and seafood platters to complement our wines, draught beer and unique Catford Rhum Arrangé cocktail menu! We also love music, so expect curated playlists or DJ-spun vinyls as the evening unfolds!. If you’re a music enthusiast with vinyl, you’re more than welcome to come and play at C.R.A.

Who or what are your inspirations for making your Rhum Arrangé and sharing it with people throughout South London and beyond?

Our inspiration comes from the rich artisan tradition of rhum arrangé in the French West Indies, and the joy that comes sharing with loved ones. Being part of the vibrant community in Catford, and now Deptford, has further fuelled our passion. We started selling our Rhum arrangé in markets around London, especially in the southeast, and the positive response from those who may not have experienced this drink before has been incredibly rewarding. It motivated us to introduce it to a wider audience. We have also crafted our own cocktails using our rhum arrangé. Some of these creations were suggested by friends or customers. For instance, ‘Roberto’ is a drink recommended by one of our customers, and interestingly, Roberto is from Penge!

What would your advice be to those starting out in a culinary business or side hustle?

Starting a culinary business or side hustle can be challenging but incredibly rewarding. Our advice is to follow your passion and stay true to the quality and uniqueness of your offerings. Tell your story! Selling in markets can be daunting, but it’s a learning curve. It helps to do your market research, to understand what clients want; this allows you to better engage with customers. Our suggestion is to actively connect with the community, be open to feedback, and don’t be afraid to adapt. 

Always remember and be thankful for the people who’ve helped you. Building a strong network and utilising social media can also be instrumental in getting your venture off the ground but be prepared to work hard and do not expect to become successful from day one or even with the principal aim of becoming rich! And, of course, keep an eye on the legal and financial aspects to ensure a smooth operation

What are your favourite London haunts?

Since being in Deptford, we’ve fallen in love with the community’s quirky places like Big John’s Biltong Bar and the Endeavour. Instead of focusing on Michelin-starred places, we prefer little hidden gems like the Ivorian restaurant Sikatio in Brockley – absolutely delicious!

For a more adventurous experience, visit our neighbour, the Maestro, for great Cameroonian music performances and observations of ‘sappeurs.’ One of our go-to spots is La Placite de Mall in New Cross – a lovely cantine with a great atmosphere offering a variety of Latin American food and music, albeit sometimes a bit hectic. If you enjoy Vietnamese food, we recommend trying Eat Vietnam Bar B Grill.

For a night out, The Fox and Firkin offer great concerts with well-known performers. We’re also eagerly anticipating the opening of Lewisham’s first-ever community-owned music venue, Sister Midnight. Additionally, we’re looking forward to the reopening of Chai Stix in Tanners Hill, which is transforming into a Cat Cafe! London’s diversity provides a plethora of options, and exploring different neighbourhoods always brings new and exciting experiences.

Visit the Catford Rhum Arrangé Bar & Café at 48-49 Deptford Broadway (SE8 4PH) – check opening times here. And you can buy some of the amazing Rhum Arrangé online too!