Gumbo Limbo Chapter Embraces Miami Rum Renaissance 2012

Aloha,

Rum Renaissance

The Moai are known for many things, especially their love of all things rum. So, when the Gumbo Limbo Chapter heard about Miami Rum Renaissance, an annual event held in Miami Beach, they had to check it out. The founders, Robert and Robin Burr, and their son Rob Jr. created the initial Rum Renaissance Festival in 2009, and it has been growing since. The event is all about rum but this year the party went to the legendary Mai-Kai for dinner and the show one night as well.

The event began on a Monday night with a kickoff party hosted by a Botran Rum at Miami’s infamous Broken Shaker. Craft cocktails and succulent appetizers were plentiful and the atmosphere perfect under the lush bougainvillea poolside. Throughout the week brands such as Zacapa, Brugal, Caliche, Diplomatico, and Appleton hosted similar parties at various locations in Miami. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see many of the beautiful pools and gardens at Miami’s famous art deco hotels while enjoying the finest rums available (and some not yet available). Another highlight every year is the Bacardi party hosted at their swanky Coral Gables headquarters.

One of this year’s featured events was the unveiling of Miami Club Rum at their headquarters in the Miami Design District. Miami Club Rum has a unique aging technique. Instead of aging the rum in charred wooden barrels, instead they age it in metal tanks with spiral cut wooden rods inserted. Then they pump samba music through several large speakers placed next to the tanks to infuse the rum with the flavor of Miami. The F.O.M. Test Labs are taking a serious look at this technique for other uses.

On Wednesday through Friday the serious effort of rum judging takes place with two sessions a day during the RumXP International Tasting Competition. This is no easy task, the judges taste upwards of 100 rums in such categories as white, gold, dark, premium, ultra-premium, spiced and flavored and rate them on a 100 point scale. This year the judges included the Tohunga of the Te Āporo Nui Chapter while members of the Gumbo Limbo Chapter helped with tallying the scores. After the judges have had their tastes throughout the week, the Grand Tasting event is opened to the public, with over 100 rums available to try both in cocktails and on their own.

But there’s more than just rum. Vendors like Tortuga Tile Works and Fashion Tramp participated in the Island Lifestyles exhibition and throughout the day there were various seminars led by expert mixologists and master blenders.

Between the rum, the art, and the dancing, there were demonstrations and competitions on the main stage including cooking and bartending demonstrations. The Bamboo Bartender competition was an Iron Chef style competition where mixologists could only bring their own rum and tools to the stage and were put on the spot to make a winning cocktail with the available mixers and liqueurs. Esteban Ordonez, representing Don Q rum, defended his crown as bamboo bartender and took home the custom plaque from Tortuga Tile Works.

For the Moai, the highlight of the stage competitions every year is the US vs UK Tiki Off. This competition pits teams of top bartenders from the US and UK against each other in several events including a tiki trivia challenge, where the bartenders mix several drinks and are judged on speed, accuracy and consistency; pin the tail on the rum, where the bartenders taste a rum then have to name it AND correctly identify (on an unlabeled map) where it is from; and the final competition, a skit and original cocktail presented to the judges (and the audience) for consideration. The final presentation saw an elaborate training video shown by the UK showing their preparation for the “Tiki Olympics” followed by a live tiki cocktail relay race culminating in the whole crowd joining in the limbo with layback shots of their fine cocktail. The US team took a simpler approach, opting for a poem poking fun at the UK team and an impressive three man fireball unveiling of the Tikilator Melon Mixor, fountaining their original creation through coconuts, and various melons and out a spigot where they served the judges and the crowd. The UK team walked away victorious for the third year in a row, but it was the closest competition yet and the US vows they will get revenge next year.

You can expect the Moai to flock to this potent combination of rum and tiki in sunny Florida again in 2013.

Keep the Torches Burning,

—Tagata Maori Rogorogo

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