Wilfred Sands was 18 when he was told by his parents to start working. Back in the day Wilfred’s parents didn’t have the money to send him to college. He therefore set-out to find employment through golf professional Jack Kay and landed a job at the uber-exclusive Lyford Cay Club in New Providence, Bahamas.
Lyford Cay Club is a private gated community which is considered one of the wealthiest and most exclusive neighbourhoods in the world. The Club was built during the 1950s by Edward Plunkett Taylor who was a prominent Canadian businessman and thoroughbred breeder. His stables gave birth to Northern Dancer, the greatest sire of the 20th century. In addition to 16 Queen’s Plate races, in 1964, Northern Dancer won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
At the age of 23, Wilfred was promoted to a waiter by the club manager who said “you can do better in life; we’re going to make you a bartender”. Wilfred taught himself by keeping a bartender guide under one of the old cash registers. Then, one day, a member came up to the bar and asked Wilfred for a drink that was not too overly sweet and could be served in a tumbler. Wilfred got creative and after some experimentation his famous Rum Dum was born.
Then, in 1971, Wilfred was awarded the Bronze Medal at the “Taste of the Caribbean” culinary classic in Miami, Florida. At the event he dazzled and wooed the judges with his Rum Dum. For this event he also invented the Yellow Elder – a non-alcoholic drink, named after the National Flower of The Bahamas.
Club members at Wilfred’s bar, located in the men’s locker room, once commented that after a member’s round of golf he’d “even run one over to their home in a hurricane if he were asked.” Wilfred went on; “That’s just the kind of service we provide.”
Then in 2010, alongside The Bahamas Culinary Team, Wilfred placed Gold in the Taste of the Caribbean Culinary Classics Competition. He explains that at the competition he said to the judge; “My next drink is going to the ‘Island Gal’ – its sweet.” The judge said, “You must mean the Island Girl” to which Wilfred replied, “No, no – I’m an island boy so it’s got to be Island Gal.”
After retiring from the Lyford Cay Club in 2012, Wilfred was asked to work for John Watling’s Distillery. When interviewed by the press and asked why he skipped retirement to work at John Watling’s and after showing off his new brass foot-railed, mahogany bar, Wilfred replied, “…wouldn’t you?”
Magazines such as The New York Times and Avenue have gone to great lengths to replicate Wilfred’s recipe. Today the Rum Dum has become one of the most asked for drinks in Lyford Cay and one of the most famous cocktails in The Bahamas.
Today at John Watling’s Distillery, Wilfred is respectfully known as Uncle Will. Here he makes his world-renowned JOHN WATLING’S Rum Dum for visitors and locals alike. He always offers a great cocktail and a friendly smile. After more than 40 years since its invention, Uncle Will has finally disclosed his secret to making the finest of all Bahamian cocktails;
JOHN WATLING'S Rum Dum
1 ¼ oz. JOHN WATLING’S Pale rum
½ oz. JOHN WATLING’S Amber rum
1 oz. egg white
1 ¼ oz. lemon juice
A splash of simple syrup or a teaspoon of sugar
Method of Preparation:
In a cocktail shaker mix the JOHN WATLING’S Pale rum, the white of an egg, lemon juice and simple syrup or sugar. Shake vigorously and pour into a short glass full of ice. Gently top it off with JOHN WATLING’S Amber rum floater.
After floating JOHN WATLING’S Amber rum on top of the drink do not stir it so as to better enjoy the different layers of taste.