On In London Interviews: Tom Mercer, Founder of Manatii

The rum connoisseur sat with us to tell us more about his conscious brand with a strong purpose…

1.Tell us a little more about you and your background

I am 23 years old from London, and I graduated University in June 2023, having studied International Business Management at Newcastle. Whilst university taught me a lot about entrepreneurship, I knew that the typical 9-5 office life wasn’t for me, and I at least wanted to try something completely different.  So, during lectures I’d often be working on Manatii,  shipping orders, replying to emails and trying to do anything other than my coursework! When I’m not working on Manatii, I work part-time in a pub to earn some cash. I love playing and watching all sports and travelling as much as I can.

2. You set up the business alongside family and friends, how do you find working with those closest to you?

I remember being told by someone “never go into business with friends or family.” Honestly, I can see why haha! It can be tough sometimes, especially trying to create time to focus on the relationships outside of work, but we are doing well so far. Oh, and the team are split across three timezones currently, UK, New York and Gold Coast (Australia) – organising team calls is fun!

In all seriousness, it’s a really amazing relationship to have with them. Emma, CJ and Mattia are some of the closest people to me and as a group of co-founders, I couldn’t have done it without them.

3. What inspired Manatii?

We were fortunate enough to be on holiday in the Bahamas during August 2019, and it was hurricane season at the time. There was a pretty bad hurricane on our path and we managed to get one of the last flights out of the area before it hit. Hurricane Dorian was the strongest hurricane on record in the Bahamas, with winds topping 200mph. We have lots of friends out there who couldn’t get off the island before it hit and we wanted to find a way to give back to these communities. Our family were trying to raise some money and it was a friend of mine who suggested we should do a charitable rum. So, after months of planning, researching, and understanding the industry, Manatii was born.

4. Did you always want to start a purpose-driven business?

Even when I made the decision in university to start my own business, I knew I wanted to start a business that gave back to the community, but was unsure of how that would work and what the purpose would be. Seeing the partnership we are building with the Green Turtle Cay (GTC)  Foundation makes it worthwhile and is incredibly rewarding, I feel grateful that we are able to give something back to the communities so badly affected by hurricanes. The GTC Foundation is rebuilding the Amy Roberts Primary School on the island, this will help expand the school and provide better facilities to the kids than before the storm. 

5. Why rum? Do you think you’ll venture into other spirits?

Rum is the spirit of choice in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, it’s like water out there. So it seemed fitting to dive into the world of rum. We are pretty focused on rum right now, I don’t think we’ll expand anytime soon, but who knows!

6. Describe the taste of Manatii in three words.

Smooth, sippable and mixable.

7. You’ve started creating candles from old Manatii bottles, is sustainability important to your brand?

We have, and we can’t believe how well they have sold! We believe it’s irresponsible of new brands in this day and age to not put sustainability as their top priority, and we feel we have even more of a responsibility to be sustainable, particularly as the current climate crisis is disproportionately affecting the Bahamas and other islands in the Caribbean, a place close to our hearts. For this reason, it is important to us that at every stage of the distilling process, bottling, packaging and delivery, sustainability is at the forefront. We love repurposing the bottles. I find it amazing that you can buy a candle from us that could have been previously used in a rum bar in London, a cocktail bar in Brighton or in someone’s home. That’s really special to us. 

8. What’s next for Manatii?

We want to grow and pop up in as many bars, restaurants, hotels, clubs, pubs and venues as we can. The more venues we can get into, the more money we raise for communities in the Caribbean, starting with the Green Turtle Cay Foundation. We also plan to pop up in bars, theatres and festivals around the UK this year, stay tuned to our socials for updates. 

9. What’s everyone’s favourite Manatii cocktail and how do you make it?
I’ve not found one unanimous, favourite cocktail. But I’ll give you two of mine! 

Rum Caipirinha 


  • Muddle (well!) the lime wedges and sugar
  • Add the rum, crushed ice and stir.
  • Serve with a lime wedge

Gerald’s Punch 

It follows a rhyme and I’ll leave the making up to you:

1 of sour, 2 of sweet, 3 of strong, 4 of weak. 


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