Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday the Busiest and the Most FUN Day Yet!

     This was a day that took a real strong rumstyler to get through unscathed.      The day started out with 12 Plantation Rums for breakfast at 9:30 along with a very nice meal as well.     Guillaume Lamy of Plantation offered up a fine history and how each of the rums were selected and finished at Cognac Ferrand in France.     Not only did we get to taste all of these fine rums, we were afforded a chance to taste the 20th Anniversary Barbados before the final aging tin the Cognac casks as well as the finished product.

Judging Room
      Next on the morning agenda was the forth round of the judging .   This is the real work of the day.     It takes time and focus to do a fair and unbias job of evaluating these fine rums.     It is also very interesting to see the "reveal" after each of the rum Judging sessions.

        Cockspur Rum of Barbados is our host for lunch.      Dave Meyer and is team filled us in about the changes in the product and the new packaging.    The tasting of the Cockspur Fine and the Cockspur 12 Rums and the chance to carry on a conversation with the team members over lunch was very enlightening to the goals and directions that  Cockspur are aiming for.  

     After lunch it's back to the judging room for the final judging session.     This is the most rewarding of the sessions for it is the premium rums that we all enjoy the most.      The judging is followed by a press room interviews session and a break before the evenings VIP Party's begin.

       The evening begins with the Mount Gay VIP Party at the SOHO Beach Resort.    The SOHO Beach Resort is one of those fabulous garden tiki bar venues to hold a VIP Party for a Bajan rum producer Mount Gay.     The steel drum band , island food, and of course the enjoyable Mount Gay Rum.     All made for an enjoyable couple of hours back down in the islands.     Thanks to the Mount Gay people for putting on a very nice evening of rum, conversation, and island inspired appetizers.

Abuelo Centuria Introduction
      Back to the Deauville Beach Resort for the Abuelo Party in the Jazz Club.     This was a reunion for all of us that got the chance to spend some time together in Panama last February.     It was the first opportunity for America to taste the Abuelo Centuria, the rum made to celebrate 100 years of Varela Hermanos making rum.     I had a unique opportunity to be a  guest bartender for the party and spend some quality time with some very interesting people at the same time.     It was good to spend some time with Daniel Fabrega and Ricardo March, the gentlemen that were our gracious hosts in Panama.     This was a wonderful party full of surprise visits from several friends that hadn't made an appearance thus far at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.

     An invitation from Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery to taste a new rum was received as I left the Abuelo VIP Party, so it was off the the lobby bar and an opportunity to try the new Rum Sixty Six.    This is a new 12 year old rum that proved to be of excellent quality and flavor.    The group of us afforded the opportunity enjoyed the experience.

     The day is finally at an end, a long and really fun day again.     The good news is the tough days are behind us.    Tomorrow is the start of the Grand Tasting at the Deauville Beach Resort from 2 til 8pm and then off to the Appleton VIP Party at the Delano Hotel's Florida Room.     ;o)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Rum Renaissance is at Full Swing

Yesterday was the first of three non-stop days.     We started the day off with a breakfast with our friends at Atlantico.     Then it was off to the first round of rum judging of the day.    Lunch was next on the agenda with our friends from the Koloa Rum Company from Kauai Hawaii.     Bet you cant guess what was next, ya back for the second round of rum judging.     After being given enough time to shower and change, we were on a bus headed for the Tobacco Road in Miami and the Zafra VIP Party.    Finally it was off the the Bacardi Penthouse in Coral Gables for the Bacardi VIP Party and a surprise tasting of some new Bacardi products.

     The breakfast with the Atlantico people was a chance to provide them with some feedback on a couple of new products that they are working on.    This is a real honor for all of us at the Rum XP's, it isn't often that you are given the opportunity to be apart of who a product is going to be made.    After a nice breakfast and the tasting it was off to the judging room again for the second of the five judging sessions.

     Koloa Rum Company of Hawaii was the host for our lunch.    Bob Gunter, president of Koloa Rum Company talked to us about the history and linage of the company.     He told of the high quality sugar cane the rich volcanic soil and very rainy climate there provides.    Distribution is the stumbling point for those of us on the East coast, but there is distribution in California, which is a start for bringing these rums to Florida.     After a nice lunch and a chance to spend some time with Mr. Gunter, we were back in the judging room again for the second of this days judging sessions.

     It's now 5:00 pm and we are aboard the bus heading for Tobacco Road, the holder of Miami's oldest liquor licence and the Zafta Party.    Francisco "Don Pancho" Fernandez, the master distiller behind the creation of this fine rum was the host of the party.    Don Pancho was instrumental in the creation of many rums while he was at Abuelo and Havana Club before forming the Zafra Brand.    The party was a great on with a chance to get together and relax and enjoy the Zafra Rum our host provided us.    The crowd grew and the music had everyone groovin to the tunes and rum.     After a few hours at Tobacco Road with Zafra it was time to thank Don Pancho, our host and the personnel that had made  this part of the evening so enjoyable.     Then back on the bus and get underway to the Bacardi Penthouse in Coral Gables.

     The Bacardi VIP Party was a very elegant affair that was  made even more important to all of us when the XP's were invited into the tasting room to preview and judge some new Bacardi products against some their competitor.      This is a real honor when a company like Bacardi has this kind of trust and faith in this group of rum people.      The tasting was interesting and very enlightening, and I know that I'd like to be apart of more of these events in the future.     The evening gave me a chance to enjoy one of my favorite Bacardi Rums, Ron Solera that is made in Mexico and not easily found in Florida.    Combined with the historic memorabilia in the penthouse, the fine food and drink I was honored to meet and get to talk with Mr. Bacardi during the evening.

     With the conclusion of the Bacardi Party it was back on the bus to the Deauville and some much needed sleep.   Today is a similar schedule so I've got to get the the Plantation Breakfast before I'm late  ;o)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rum Renaissance is off and Running

        Good thing I took the time to have a good breakfast yesterday, because the day seemed like it never stopped afterward.     The day really got underway with the Bank's 5 Island Rum lunch, then off to the first round of the rum judging.    After a short break to grab a bite of supper, it was off to the Brugal VIP Party at the Palms Hotel.

     The Bank's Lunch introduced us to a really nice blended white rum that is very suitable to mixing your "high end" cocktails calling for white rum.     This rum is a marriage of rums from Trinidad, Jamaica, and Indonesia that are blended for their specific flavors.     Our hosts offered up some fine cocktails and a tasty lunch and a told us of the history and the making of this truly unique concept of making rum.

Rum XP's at work
      The judging of the first 18 rums was next on the agenda for the day and it was off to the judging room we all went.     After the assessment of 18 very nice rums, and the evaluation paper work completed, we were able to see what the rums actually were.     Many of us were surprised by how high that they had scored some of the rums, but the anonymous nature of the judging takes any of the preconceived notions of a rum out of the picture.

    Now it was break time and a time to get ready for the Brugal VIP Party later in the evening.

These are the Rum XP's

     Its into a taxi we go for the short ride down Collins Avenue to the Palms Hotel and the Brugal VIP Party.       From the minute we arrived we knew that this was going to be a fun evening out on the lawns in the back garden.    The appetizers and the cocktails were excellent and the chance to carry on conversation with many of our colleagues and friends in the industry.      Many of the members of the Rum XP's only get to see each other at these events and a lot of information and stories are passed back and forth as the evening goes on.

     The music was of the island variety and kept feet moving all evening long.     By the time we called it a night and headed back to the Deauville most of us were quite ready to call it a night and it was only 10:30 in the evening.   

The Rum Bar Guys, Adam Kanter of the Philly Rum Bar and Bahama Bob Leonard of the Rum Bar in Key West with the Brugal Gals

It was probably a good thing that we made an early retreat back to the room, because this day is even busier.     Breakfast with Atlantico, Lunch with Koloa, two judging session, Zafra VIP Party, and the Bacardi VIP Party.      I'm felling tired already, but I've got the stuff to get through.     Keep up with our progress as the week continues.   Today was really only the beginning of events that make this festival so special.    ;o)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bermuda Triangle Party by night and a day on the Beach

Marino's Bar in Arcata California circa 1968
     Yesterday was the recovery day from the Zombie Jamboree, but an early breakfast and a little time spent in front of the computer had me ready for day 2 of the rum festival.     An old friend from college sent me a note about how things really haven't changed much from the college days of the lat e 60's to today.     He commented how the Mai-Kai Apartments were between the TKE house and Marino's Bar where we often spent our spare time drinking zombies.      It is good to have friends that have the old pictures to share of those fun days.     Thanks Pete for the picture and the reminder.   

     Most of yesterday was spent walking the sandy Miami Beach and lazing around in the sun, something I'm very unfamiliar with, but still enjoy.     It was a pleasure to walk in the soft white sand and see all the activities that are taking place along Miami Beach.     The people tanning and just enjoying the sunshine, the surfers and the kite surfers, all make up the fun atmosphere of the beach.     It is real easy to loose yourself walking in the sand of Miami Beach.

The "Artic Wolf" in full pool fashion
     Hanging out at the pool after a walk on the beach with several of my fellow rummies was an enjoyable  time also.      The "Artic Wolf" showed his Miami Beach fashion statement, and the rest of us just were happy laying around and sipping a nice rum or two.     A little dip in the pool and a few more rums to sip and the day just slipped away and it was time to attend the evening event.

     The Bermuda Triangle Party was the event of the evening and a friendly competition between bartenders to show off their skills and create a cocktail the had to have Barrett's Ginger Beer and a Fee Brothers Flavored Syrup.     The entries were very taste, and the Miami bartenders showed well as the created their own personal masterpieces.     A few cocktails later and after a series of interesting conversations it was up to my room and a good night's sleep.

     Today starts the judging and really getting into the meat of the event.     This is the part I'm really looking forward to and can't wait to get started.    ;o)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rum Renaissance is off to the Mai-Kai

All of us got on the bus at about 4:00 pm yesterday and headed for Fort Lauderdale and the world famous Mai-Kai Restaurant.    This is a gang of rum judges headed for a Zombie judging and tasting and a Polynesian dinner show, so you can imagine the excitement from this group of weary travelers.  

     Upon arriving at the Mai-Kai we were whisked to the show room where we were treated to the seminar by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry.     Jeff is a very interesting talker on the subject of Don the Beachcomber and the Zombie cocktail. ( a subject that I will pursue on a later date).   Jeff took us through the history and the secrecy that Don the Beachcomber  had to go to in order to preserve his magical cocktail.     Jeff also made three of the "original" recipe zombies that he had recovered from former Don the Beachcomber bartenders families and passed them around through the group of Rum XP's.     Jeff's knowledge of the recipes and the thinking of Donn Beach, this very inciteful mixologist kept our attention for the entire seminar.

The Winning Zombie

Don Q's Zombie Team

     Next came the real fun, the Zombie judging.     There were 6 different zombie makers there from all over the Caribbean and all were very skilled in the craft of zombie mixology.     This was the start of the evenings degradation as we continued to sample the zombies  over and over again to be sure of which one was really the best.     Remembering that these drinks were floated with 151 rum and contained a fair amount of rum any way.     Fortunately we all survived and were able to proceed on to a fine dinner and the Mai-Kai's incredible Polynesian  Show.

     The dinner a much needed break from the Zombie tasting that had gone on for a couple of hours.     The chef's at the Mai-Kai  provided us with a fabulous dinner that we enjoyed as the show come on.     We were taken on a tour of the pacific and South Seas Islands in dance by a very talented troupe of performers.    The dancers and the musicians kept us glued to the stage for the entire show.     Very much the highlight of the evening, this is a show you need to see if you are in the Fort Lauderdale area.     Don't forget the stop into the bar under the waterfalls and see the lovely Polynesian bartenders there as well.

     The cocktail menu is a trip to the South pacific unto itself and the lovely bartenders can not only mix you a fabulous cocktail, they are a pleasure to look at as well.     

     Today, we are off to a Bermuda Triangle party  that has great potential for being another exciting evening.     ;o)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Today it all Begins in Miami

     In an hour or so I'll be jumping into the car for the 3 hour journey to Miami for the Rum Renaissance Festival that starts today.     I've been waiting and waiting for the start of it, and today it is finally here.     Mike Streeter and myself that make up the Key West contingent to the event will be sharing a ride to save on gas and parking fees.   

     Today is the Zombie Jamboree with Jeff Berry at the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale.    Later is the Mai Kai Polynesian Show and dinner.   Both of these events will be very interesting and fun tonight.   This is going to be a great kick-off to the week.

     I'll be reporting daily as to what has happened during the previous day both with pictures and stories.     Keep up with all the happenings as this week unfolds in Miami.     I'm planning to be introducing you to new rums and some interviews with some of the more interesting people that6 are around this great event.     Keep your eyes on the blog, and I'll fill you in.  ;o)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mother Ocean's Trees of Character

These are the trees that lived on the land and mother ocean performed her artistry on them for our enjoyment.    These trees are like a good rum, they really have a character all their own.  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rumstyler's Biggest Party is Next Week, and I Really Can't Wait!!!!!!!!!!

Monday about noon time I hop into the car and leave the "rock" for a week at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.      This is the event of the year, with rum judging, parties, meetings with rum producers, and of course rum tasting events.     This week is a rumstyler's dream week and I'll be in the center of it.    

     I'll be writing a daily log of what has been going on with pictures and stories from the festival.    If you can't make it to Miami for the festival then follow the happenings on my Rumstyler's Blog.     Just look at the pictures from last year and see how much fun that everyone is having and make sure your smiling face is in the stories of this years event.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Making Plans for the Maimi Rum Renaissance Festival

     The 25th is next Monday and time for all good rumstylers to be heading to the festival in Miami.     I'll be there all week long meeting with the rum ambassadors from all over the world there to promote their unique rums and spirits.

     In addition to the booths of this years group of distillers, there are seminars, tastings, and many other special events happening all week long.     The date is getting close, so you need to get your plans made now or you will miss the world series of rum next week.

     I'll be there all week long and writing daily about the goings on and sending pictures of all of the fun we are having here for those who won't be able to attend this years event.     Lets all try to be there if at all possible, but if you can't keep up with the goings on here on my blog every day.      Remember this event runs all week long and ends Sunday May 1st.       ;o)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Celebration at the Rum Bar in Key West

Anne Parina in her new Art Car
     Anne Parina the owner of the Speakeasy Inn and Rum Bar show how lucky she really is over the weekend.     She won the Postage Stamp Art Car in the raffle she bought 1 ticket for.     The raffle was to benefit the Key West Arts and Historical Society and all of the work they do here in Key West preserving the fine historic sites we enjoy.     I'm really happy for Anne and even happier for the Arts and Historical Society in completing another successful event to keep their projects moving ahead.

      The car features actual art works by 18 local and international artists in the form of postage stamps.   I guess the best way to show off the car is in pictures so lets skip all the verbage and get to the photos.  


And this is only part of the 20 stamps on the car.