The Hukilau challenges mixologists: Can you build a better Barrel?

The 10th anniversary Hukilau – featuring four days of music, art, cocktails, vendors, symposiums on Tiki culture and much more – takes place Thursday through Sunday, June 9-12, in Fort Lauderdale. Go to TheHukilau.com for the full schedule and more information on all the performers and guests.
* Related: Hukilau 2010 video preview | A decade of The Hukilau (video)

Rum luminaries to judge annual cocktail contest

In 2010, The Hukilau introduced the Master Mixologist Cocktail Challenge, a high-octane bartending contest in which participants raced the clock to create unique tropical drinks using sponsor rums and exotic mystery ingredients. A panel of Tiki drink experts including artist Josh “Shag” Agle helped crown the first Hukilau Master Mixologist and awarded unique prizes such as custom-sculpted, hand-carved muddler.

Master Mixologist Rum Barrel Challenge

In 2011, the most intimate Tiki gathering in the world honors its 10th anniversary and the 55th anniversary of the historic Mai-Kai restaurant with an epic contest featuring an iconic tropical drink and a panel of acclaimed rum experts. Competitors in “The Master Mixologist Rum Barrel Challenge” will take center stage at Fort Lauderdale’s Bahia Cabana Beach Resort on Thursday, June 9, with the task of making a contemporary version of The Mai-Kai’s beloved “Barrel O’ Rum”.

Sponsors of the event represent the new and the old of the booming craft cocktail movement: Montanya Rum, a 3-year-old Colorado micro-distillery that hand crafts award-winning rum in the Rocky Mountains; and Fee Brothers, a four-generation-old, family-owned manufacturer of top quality cocktail mixes, bitters and flavoring syrups since 1863.

Judging the contest will be a who’s who of modern Tiki mixology and rum aestheticism: Tiki drink revivalist and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (“Beachbum Berry Remixed,” “Sippin’ Safari”), UK Rumfest founder and global “rum ambassador” Ian Burrell, San Francisco bar owner Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove), journalist and author Wayne Curtis (“And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails”), and New Orleans rum historian Stephen Remsberg. The Rum Barrel Challenge judges (aka the Rum Rat Pack) will also be participating in Beachbum Berry’s “Rumposium” special event on Saturday, June 11, at The Mai-Kai. Click here for more on the judges.

In Thursday night’s contest, our aspiring mixologists will create their own take on the classic Rum Barrel using predetermined sponsor rums and mixers, plus other ingredients of their choice. They will be permitted to fine-tune their recipes in advance but will still face the pressure of making their drinks and presenting them to our panel of distinguished judges as the clock ticks down and the crowd cheers them on during The Hukilau’s kickoff party poolside at the Bahia Cabana.

Taking on the challenge to “build a better Barrel” are the following mixologists:

Grady mixes his winning drink at Hukilau 2010

Grady mixes his winning drink at Hukilau 2010.

* Grady Johnson is an amateur competitive surfer and percussionist/vocalist in the ska band Big Big Monkeymen. He’s the defending Hukilau Master Mixologist champion and mixes his magic in the forbidden jungles of Mount Pleasant, S.C.

* Joe Desmond is head barman at New York’s Famous Rhum Rhum Room, which exists only in his imagination (and among a growing circle of friends). He and his wife, Nicole, are veterans of six Hukilaus and are hopeful their many Mai-Kai “research” trips serve them well.

* Blair Frodelius is a professional full-time musician, USBG Spirits Professional, BarSmarts graduate, member of the Museum of the American Cocktail and Society for Creative Anachronism, and editor of the Good Spirits News blog.

* Pablus is the founder and leader of the ukulele-based band The Crazed Mugs. He piloted the first falernum taste test at the 2004 Hukilau and claims to have tasted both the venerable and vile potions of many of earth’s saloons, bars and speakeasys.

* George Jenkins can often be found behind his home bar, The Storm Shelter. He runs the Brevard Tiki Facebook group and, with his wife, co-hosts the annual Brevard pre-Hukilau party. He’s a BarSmarts Live graduate and a member of the USBG.

The grand prize will be a reprise of last year’s contest: A hand-carved muddler by South Florida artist Tom Fowner along with a Mai-Kai gift certificate.

For more information, e-mail roomcrawl@thehukilau.com.

Click here for a recap of last year’s Room Crawl and Master Mixologist Cocktail Challenge.

Discuss the event on the official Tiki Central thread or on The Hukilau’s Facebook page.

Visit The Mai-Kai at MaiKai.com.

Check back for a full report on all the festivities.


The 10th anniversary Hukilau – featuring four days of music, art, cocktails, vendors, symposiums on Tiki culture and much more – takes place Thursday through Sunday, June 9-12, in Fort Laudedale. Go to TheHukilau.com for the full schedule and more information on all the performers and guests.
* Related: Hukilau 2010 video preview | A decade of The Hukilau (video)

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
This entry was posted in 2011, Cocktails, Cocktails, Events, Events, Hukilau, Mai-Kai, Master Mixologist Challenge, Rum, South Florida and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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