A great pairing: The Mai-Kai to host premium rum tasting

The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, one of the best places in the world to sip rum and tropical cocktails, will be the perfect site for a special tasting event on Thursday, Sept. 27.

Premium rum tasting at The Mai-Kai

From 7 to 9 p.m. in the legendary Polynesian restaurant’s Molokai lounge, guests will sample two top-shelf rums, served both neat and in vintage cocktails. The featured rums are Fortuna 8 from Nicaragua, and Dos Maderas PX from Barbados and Guyana. Of course, you also have the option of sampling other selections from The Mai-Kai’s premium rum list and acclaimed assortment of nearly 50 classic cocktails.

Presented by Robert A. Burr, organizer of the annual Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, this exclusive opportunity is limited to the first 40 guests. The cost is $20 per person in advance and $25 at the door. The price includes the four drinks: One cocktail and one neat featuring each of the two rums. Click here to make advance payment and reservations. Click here for the Facebook event.

This is a rare chance to both enjoy new rums and taste classic Mai-Kai cocktails that deviate from their traditional recipes. Happy hour in The Molokai runs from 5 to 7, ample time for a few half-priced drinks and appetizers, such as the Pupu Platter or Barbecued Pork Tenderloin, before the event kicks off. After indulging, you can also make late dinner reservations in one of The Mai-Kai’s elaborately themed dining rooms and sample a wide menu of entrees, from oriental stir-fry dishes to seafood, duck and beef prepared in a traditional Chinese oven.

Robert Burr's Rum Guide

Robert Burr’s Rum Guide is a great resource for rum enthusiasts and features a comprehensive list of more than 300 fine rums along with tasting notes, reviews, and much more. Burr – along with wife Robin and son Rob Jr. – founded the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival in 2009 as a humble attempt to draw attention to their favorite spirit. It has grown into one of the world’s premiere international rum events, with more than 8,000 connoisseurs attending the 2012 edition April 16-22 at the Deauville Beach Resort on Miami Beach.

According to the elder Burr’s bio, he “travels the world in search of the finest rums.” This is not mere hyperbole, I found out when I tried to contact him for input on this article. “In Havana now, limited access to internet,” he e-mailed in response to my inquiry. Robin Burr confirmed that her husband and son were in Cuba, “studying Hemmingway and retracing all the places he used to live and frequent there.” Their sojourn is a special assignment related to the soon-to-be-released book about Havana’s most famous bar-crawler, Ernest Hemingway, To Have and Have Another by Phil Greene.

Though she admitted she was a bit jealous she wasn’t included in the the Havana excursion, Robin was happy to fill me in on the Sept. 27 event. “The Mai-Kai is a great venue for rum tasting as their bartenders know how to make spectacular drinks that showcase the flavors in the featured rums,” she said. “They are easy to work with and understand what goes into creating a drink that people will enjoy.”

Fortuna 8 and Dos Maderas

The Fortuna rum, officially known as “Ron Reserva Exclusiva Añejo 8 Años,” is blended by Don “Pancho” Fernandez of Panama, one of the leading master blenders of the world who also created Zafra 21. According to a recent review by Robert A. Burr, Fortuna 8 is a medium-bodied aged rum that takes its name from the Roman god of fortune. Its taste is described as a balance of sweet creaminess with smooth pepper that moves through exotic spices, ripe banana and dried fruit tones.

Dos Maderas PX (5+5) is aged in sherry barrels in Spain – which is almost “cheating,” according to Robin Burr. Her husband’s review says the rare triple-aged rum is born and aged for five years in the Caribbean, then sailed to Spain for an additional five years in the sherry casks. “The flavors of rich caramel, honey, raisins, figs and prunes are highlighted among the complex notes of honey and vanilla,” it says.

The 2013 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival is scheduled for April 15-21. The Burrs are also planning to announce “exciting news” in the coming weeks. If it involves rum, as we expect it will, you can read about it here.

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The Mai-Kai is at 3599 N. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, on the west side between Commercial and Oakland Park boulevards. Valet and paid self-parking. For more info or to make dinner reservations, call (954) 563-3272.

The Mai-Kai: Official site | Facebook page
* Atomic Grog: Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide | Rums of The Mai-Kai | Rum cocktails

Rob’s Rum Guide: Official site | Miami Rum Renaissance Festival | Facebook
* Atomic Grog: Festival offers lessons in rum appreciation | More on Rum Renaissance

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.
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