We just spent the weekend at Miami's Rum Renaissance, and we're definitely hung over, but not so much that we can't recap the festivity's best.
They say that the third time's the charm, and the cliché rings true for this festival, now in its third year, as it was extended to a full week of VIP rum
parties debauchery and attracted thousands of people from the rum world to the weekend's Grand Tasting.
Robert A. Burr, the festival's cofounder and organizer, really pulled out the big guns this year in terms of the festival's size, venue, and attendees, like Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, Philip Duff, and Ian Williams.
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The Grand Tasting, which took place on Saturday and Sunday at the Deauville Hotel in the later part of the afternoon, was the festival's main attraction. New this year in conjunction with the Grand Tasting was the Island Lifestyle Showcase in which guests could
lounge pass out and shop while taking a break from the rum.
What else could be found in the lounge? Cocktails in freshly cut coconuts (how cool is that?), hula dancing lessons, and two-minute cocktail competitions. Another big part of the Grand Tasting weekend, which was included in the dirt-cheap $25 price tag, were the popular seminars. Seminar topics included "The Terroir of Rum," "Daiquiri History," and "The Real History of Rum."
All of the rums that you know (Bacardi, Flor de Cana, Captain Morgan, Zacapa) and don't know (Plantation, Mount Gay, Cockspur, Chairman's Reserve) were at the festival and had a booth with both samples of the rum alone and in cocktails; hence, the reason for the lounge. The booths were of course manned by beautiful, scantily clad women and some of South Florida's hottest mixologists, like Tommy Merolla, Elad Zvi, Esteban Ordonez, Cricket Ann Nelson, Paul Sevigny, Gabriel Orta, and Michael Parrish. And of course, we also bumped into some old favorites like Robert V. Burr and Andrew Lazo of the Tiki Horror Club, Eleanor Hoh AKA "The Wokstar," and Maria de los Angeles of the local blog Sex and the Beach.
- Biggest trend: The use of fresh herbs and aromatics in rum cocktails. Hydroponic plants could be found in a variety of booths during the festival, including Dos Maderas and Appleton.
- Crowd favorites - rum only: Plantation, Atlantico, Zacapa, Abuelo
- Crowd favorites - cocktails: Atlantico, Chairman's Reserve, Dos Maderas, 10 Cane Rum
- Crowd favorites - mixing rums: DonQ, Flor de Cana, Bacardi
Garnish: Basil leaf and a jalapeno slice.