Bronx-born rapper and friends launch Sonrisa, Puerto Rico’s newest rum

Bronx-born rap star and entrepreneur, Fat Joe, sips on a coconut cocktail at the launch of the newest Puerto Rican rum, Sonrisa, which he partnered with this year.
Bronx-born rap star and entrepreneur, Fat Joe, sips on a coconut cocktail at the launch of the newest Puerto Rican rum, Sonrisa, which he partnered with this year.
Photo ET Rodriguez

Salsa, reggaeton and freestyle music blasted as hundreds gathered at Con Sofrito’s Puerto Rican Day parade after-party on Sunday, June 9, where a sea of people wearing and waving red, white and blue enjoyed free food, free drinks and the newest Puerto Rican rum to hit the market in partnership with Bronx-born rapper and entrepreneur, Joseph Cartagena — also known as Fat Joe.

“It gives back to Puerto Rico, every bottle that’s sold, a dollar goes back to mom-and-pop businesses,” Fat Joe told the Bronx Times regarding his reason to invest in Sonrisa rum.

As part of its initiative to give back to the island, Sonrisa, meaning “smile” in Spanish, established “From Puerto Rico, For Puerto Rico,” which gives $1 of every bottle sold to the people of Puerto Rico, but more specifically, to small business owners; many who are still trying to recover from the affects of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“They are our forgotten American brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico that no one is caring about,” said Sonrisa co-founder and co-CEO Shareef Malnik from Miami, who calls Puerto Rico “our sister city” and often visited the island as a child. “The FEMA money never gets to them, they never survived Hurricane Maria, COVID — so we’re going to donate millions of dollars to those people along with our partners.”

Said partners include co-founder and co-CEO, Jae Goodman who grew up in Puerto Rico by way of a flight attendant mother; MLB catcher for the Chicago White Sox, Martin Maldonado; singer Llandel Veguilla Malavé, known professionally as Yandel; and Fat Joe.

“They’re all our partners. They’re not celebrity endorsers,” Malnik added.

New York City Sheriff Anthony Miranda (c.) poses with restaurateur Jimmy Rodriguez Jr., of Jimmy Bronx Cafe fame, and creator of Con Sofrito.
Ismael Malave (l.), who is running for city comptroller, poses with Fat Joe (c.) and a friend at Con Sofrito’s Puerto Rican Day Parade after-party and Sonrisa rum launch.Photo ET Rodriguez

According to Puerto Rico’s tourism website, 70% of the rum consumed in the U.S. comes from the island, with Bacardi as the world’s most popular brand, Ron del Barrilito as Puerto Rico’s oldest and now Sonrisa joining the ranks. According to the brand’s Chief Marketing Officer Orlando Baeza, the rum’s distillery is being kept under wraps, but he says that Sonrisa is made with the expertise of a 47-year veteran distiller named Sylvia – my guess is Bacardi.

Sonrisa launched earlier this year with three styles – platino, aged a minimum of one year; oro especial, the same as platino but aged a second time in bourbon barrels and reserva, aged a minimum of three years in whiskey barrels as well. The rum earned a gold medal at the 2024 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC).

The reserva over ice gives those deep notes of dark sugar often found in aged rum with a smooth finish.

Ana Rodriguez poses with one of the hundreds of coconuts containing Sonrisa rum cocktails from passionfruit coco colada to guanabana mojitos.Photo ET Rodriguez
The crowd enjoyed free food and free drinks at Con Sofrito’s Puerto Rican Day Parade after-party on Sunday, June 9, and danced into the night.Photo ET Rodriguez

The weather and venue was giving island vibes that were perfect for the outdoor after-party.

Created by Jimmy Rodriguez Jr. of Jimmy’s Bronx Café fame, Don Coqui and other restaurant ventures, Con Sofrito sits unassumingly on the warehouse-lined street of Commerce Avenue near Westchester Square. The Puerto Rican hotspot is no stranger to celebrity parties and politico hangouts — Mayor Eric Adams celebrated his 63rd birthday in the private room, which has since been taken down due to a controversial court order; Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark celebrated her 2023 victory party there; and on Sunday, Fat Joe and friends celebrated Puerto Rico’s newest rum where everyone partied through the night with flags in one hand and sipping coconuts in the other.

“We’re going to be that breakout brand,” said Malnik. “Like what Patron did to tequila, we want to do to rum.”

Sonrisa is Puerto Rico’s newest rum, which launched earlier this year with three flavors: platino, oro especial and reserva.Photo ET Rodriguez

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