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Cocktails & Spirits

Rum's Romantic Revival at Miami's Rum Renaissance

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. 

Unlike the snobs of the wine world (no offense, winos), rum connoisseurs are laid-back, and even the top experts in the trade are more interested in sharing their knowledge and love with others rather than in acting holier-than-thou. Even their gear is cooler. You will be hard-pressed to find a larger gathering of people donning floral shirts, suntans, and stylish hats anywhere.

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.
Final thoughts...
  • 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

We can only imagine that next year's festivities will be bigger and even more badass than this year's. 
The Rum Renaissance may be over, but that doesn't mean you need to stop drinking. Below, find some recipes we snagged from the festival to enjoy at home. It's summer outside, so get mixing. 

Passion Fontaine (This one has real jalapenos in the mix!)
1 1/2 oz. Dos Maderas 5+3

Muddled Basil Leaves 
1 Pounded Jalapeno Slice 
3/4 oz. Boiron Passion Fruit Puree 
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup 
1/2 oz. Boiron Lime Juice 

Shake with ice, strain over fresh ice.

Garnish: Basil leaf and a jalapeno slice. 

Perfect Storm 
2 oz. Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum 
4 oz. ginger beer 
1/2 oz. lime juice 
Lime wedge 

Directions: Fill a chilled highball glass with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Garnish with lime wedge. 

2 oz. 10 Cane Rum 
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice 
1 oz. simple syrup 
8-10 mint leaves 
Splash of club soda 
Mint sprig 

Place mint leaves and simple syrup in the bottom of a tall glass and press gently with a muddler. Fill with cracked ice. Add 10 Cane and lime juice. Stir gently and top off with soda. Garnish with mint sprig.

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Mandy Baca

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