An Evening With Sailor Jerry – The Artist & The Rum

You’ve probably seen them around South Austin – large murals covering sides of buildings depicting Sailor Jerry, his artwork, and bottles of rum. The latest is at the corner of Lamar and Oltorf. So what’s the deal?

It’s Sailor Jerry Day! For those of you who did not know, yes, Sailor Jerry was an actual person: Norman Collins. He was one of the pioneers of modern day tattooing and mentor to several well-known tattoo artists, including Don Ed Hardy, Mike Malone, and Zeke Owen.

Collins was also the inspriation behind the Sailor Jerry rum brand – and if you have ever tried it, you will understand why. It tastes like something an old sailor would create – spicy, a little sweet, potent.

On June 13 & 14, Sailor Jerry rum will play homage to Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins with a series of public screenings of the award-winning documentary, Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry: The Life and Times of Norman Keith Collins, written and directed by Erich Weiss.

Your friendly neighborhood Tasting Buds recently attended a Sailor Jerry event at local hot dog haven, Frank. We were treated to Sailor Jerry cocktails, including the Perfect Storm, which was a very potent, tangy, slightly bitter concoction. After a couple of Storms, I was ready to watch the film and learn more about the man and his art.

Luckily, my tablemate to the right was the director himself, Erich Weiss. He sipped a michelada and gave us the director’s commentary to what he called the “cliff’s notes” version of the documentary. He took us on a journey through Honolulu’s gritty, drunken Chinatown circa the 1960s, introducing us to the main characters that helped shape the world of modern tattooing.

Poutine and Cheese Fries at Frank

Between the on-screen anecdotes of Collins and company, and the litany of well-informed side notes from Weiss, I felt both disquieted and enamored. These figures were irreverent to everything else but their art, and I have to respect that.

Learn more about the world of Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins in the full screening of Weiss’s documentary. The screenings will take place at Alamo Drafthouse South and are free for the public, but you must RSVP at


2 thoughts on “An Evening With Sailor Jerry – The Artist & The Rum”

  1. The Sailor Jerry explains this:

    “Sailor Jerry was the father of old-school tattooing. A true American Icon whose work is still revered today. This rum was created to keep his legacy alive.”

    If you could bottle the flavor of a tattoo parlor that has never been swept or mopped, all the dirt, sweat, blood, tears… Sailor Jerry would be it.

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