About Matt Pietrek aka The Rum Wonk
Matt Pietrek, aka Rum Wonk and Cocktail Wonk
Matt Pietrek is an award-winning author, educator, historian, consultant, and publisher focusing on rum and cocktails. His insights are sought out by many of the world’s top rum brands.
With co-author Carrie Smith, Matt wrote Modern Caribbean Rum: A Contemporary Reference to the Region’s Essential Spirit, and winner of the 2023 Spirited Award for Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits. This 850-page encyclopedia of rum has 38 chapters covering rum making, the rum industry, and detailed looks at over 75 Caribbean rum producers.
Previously he wrote Minimalist Tiki: A Cocktail Wonk Look at Classic Libations and the Modern Tiki Vanguard, a finalist for Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book at the 2020 Spirited Awards.
He also contributed entries to the Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails.
Matt is the community envoy for the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association (WIRSPA), the trade group of over 30 rum makers in 14 CARICOM countries, including Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad. In this role, he works closely with the management and technical staff of member distilleries to help connect them with rum enthusiasts and help elevate the category.
Separately, Matt provides consulting services, education, and content creation to numerous rum makers and rum brands.
Matt excels at explaining complex topics at the intersection of distilled spirits with technology, history and business.
He authors two websites: Rum Wonk and Cocktail Wonk. The Rum Wonk Substack highlights advanced, industry-insider perspectives on rum, both past and present. Cocktail Wonk is about cocktails and distilled spirits. Before starting Rum Wonk, his rum topic writings appeared on Cocktail Wonk.
Matt is among today’s top educators on rum, presenting at Tales of the Cocktail, Bar Convent Berlin, Bar Convent Brooklyn, the UK Rumfest, Paris Rumfest, Miami Rum Congress, California Rumfest, Arizona Tiki Oasis, and The Hukilau.
An expert on distilled spirit regulations, Matt has presented at two European Union conferences on this subject.
Separately, he provides highly advanced 1-on-1 rum education to private individuals.
An avid researcher and collector of historical documents, Brands including Mount Gay, Renegade, Hayman Distillers and Maison Ferrand have commissioned Matt to undertake history-related research. Matt created and oversees Facebook’s Rum History group and is among the world’s foremost living experts on Royal Navy rum history.
Matt and Carrie Smith are the team behind Wonk Press, a new style of profit-sharing publishing company creating uncompromising books about spirits and lifestyle topics. They partner with authors with great content that wouldn’t get the attention of mainstream publishers.
The current portfolio is:
Minimalist Tiki (Matt Pietrek & Carrie Smith)
Modern Caribbean Rum (Matt Pietrek & Carrie Smith)
Polynesiacs – Tiki at Home (Tom Jaynes)
Additional book projects are currently underway.
Matt is a four-time Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award finalist in the writing categories and won the category in 2023. In 2018 he was part of Imbibe magazine’s annual list of 75 people, places, and ideas shaping the drinks world.
In a previous life, Matt was a software architect for several high-profile companies, including Borland, NuMega and Microsoft, and he wrote three books on Windows systems engineering. He and Carrie live in New Orleans with their boxer dog, (Admiral) Nelson