Make it a double: Ascension of Miami Rum Renaissance Festival mirrors explosive growth of cane spirits

2013 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival: Monday, April 15, through Sunday, April 21, at the Doubletree by Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center. For more information, go to RumRenaissance.com.
April update: Rum’s best and brightest stars take center stage at annual Miami festival

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

The popularity of rum has exploded over the past five years, reaching heights not seen since the mid-century heyday of Tiki. If you need proof, just look at the annual Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, which made its debut in 2009 and has doubled in size each year.

For 2013, the largest gathering of rum experts, professionals and enthusiasts in the western hemisphere will be moving to a venue with 40,000 square feet of event space, twice the size of last year’s event. Festival organizers say they expect attendance to double from last year’s 8,000 to more than 15,000 rum-loving faithful.

Consumer interest in sugar cane spirits is growing faster than any other category of liquor. “We’re proud to say that our prediction of rum’s resurgence in popularity was on the money,” said festival organizer Robert A. Burr in announcing his fifth annual event. “An incredible range of fine rums, from casual and fun mixers to luxurious top-shelf sipping rums, will be on display. There is no better opportunity for the rum enthusiast to sample such a vast selection of spirits in one place.”

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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.

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Miami festival offers many lessons in rum appreciation

The surging popularity of rum was clearly evident at this year’s Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, which again doubled its attendance in its fourth year to more than 8,000 connoisseurs of the cane spirit. The festival was held April 16-22 at the Deauville Beach Resort on Miami Beach, plus other locations around the area.

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival kick-off party at the Broken Shaker at the Indian Creek Hotel on Monday, April 16
Miami Rum Renaissance Festival kick-off party at the Broken Shaker at the Indian Creek Hotel on Monday, April 16. (Photo by Soul of Miami)

According to the festival organizers, the attendance total included more than 6,000 ticket holders, around 450 VIP passes, and nearly 900 industry passes. Events included rum tastings, VIP parties, celebrity seminars and much more.

Organized by Robert Burr along with his wife Robin and son Rob, the festival is poised to become one of the largest and most prestigious spirits conferences in the country. The festival “surpassed expectations and served to reinforce our message that rum is enjoying a notable resurgence in popularity,” they wrote in a recap sent via e-mail. “We are showing the world that rum is fun – a delightful component of interaction when friends gather to enjoy life.”

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Get a Ph.D in rum appreciation this week at Miami festival

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival: Monday-Sunday, April 16-22, at the Deauville Beach Resort, Miami Beach, plus other locations. Featuring rum tastings, VIP parties, celebrity seminars and more.

Previous: Miami rum festival events include The Mai-Kai, week of VIP parties
Miami festival set for same weekend as Hukilau in April

So what do you do during the weeklong Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, which kicks off today, besides drink rum? You learn about rum, of course.

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

For many, it’s all about the VIP parties throughout the week, and of course the two-day Grand Tasting events on Saturday and Sunday that will offer hundreds of samples of great rums and rum cocktails. But lesser known are the educational opportunities associated with all the revelry.

Seminars and lectures will be presented by high-profile mixologists, plus experts from the rum manufacturing, distilling, and blending world. You’ll get insightful information geared to both consumers and members of the trade. These symposiums range from “The History of Rum in North America” to one we’re not going to miss, “The Piña Colada Paternity Test.”

Presented by Ian Burrell, producer of the U.K. RumFest, this promises to be a fun and enlightening presentation that answers the burning questions: Who created the Piña Colada? Where was it created? And what rum was used?

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Miami rum festival events include The Mai-Kai, week of VIP parties

Previous: Miami festival set for same weekend as Hukilau in April

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

The highlight of the fourth annual Miami Rum Renaissance Festival certainly promises to be the two-day Grand Tasting events on Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22, when the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach hosts thousands of enthusiasts and industry VIPs for two full days of sampling the best cane spirits from around the world.

But in addition to those festivities, a wide range of events and activities are scheduled under the banner of Miami Rum Week starting Monday, April 16. Among the highlights:

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A rum explosion: Miami festival set for same weekend as Hukilau in April

2012 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival: Monday, April 16, through Sunday, April 22, at the Deauville Beach Resort, Miami Beach. For more information, go to RumRenaissance.com.

It’s funny to see the reaction when people find out that The Hukilau, the 11th annual Tiki and rum-soaked weekender in Fort Lauderdale, has been moved to the same week as the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. “Whatever will we do?” Why, drink more rum, of course.

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

Last year, there was a good six-week buffer zone, so our livers had time to recover. This year, however, it’s a full-on rum onslaught. On April 19-21 (Thursday through Saturday), rum will flow liberally at The Hukilau’s beachside host hotels, and during nightly parties at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Rum cocktail authority Jeff “Beachbum” Berry will highlight The Hukilau’s tropical-themed symposiums with his latest history lesson on the Zombie.

Meanwhile, less than 30 miles away on South Beach, the largest gathering of rum experts in the world will take over the ritzy Deauville (where the Beatles once played for Ed Sullivan) with VIP parties, competitions and “grand tasting” events. Rum Renaissance Festival organizers promise a bigger and better event this year with almost twice the square footage in the main exhibit hall, and many more rum brands from around the world.

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We be Jammin: Rum Renaissance Zombie fest at The Mai-Kai

Zombie Jamboree

Related links
* See our photos from the event | Our event preview | More on Rum Renaissance
* Our recipe (with photos) for the Atomic Zombie Cocktail

Jeff "Beachbum" Berry teaches a graduate course on the Zombie
Jeff "Beachbum" Berry teaches a graduate course on the Zombie.

There was enough revelry and hard-core mixology on display this past Monday to wake the long-dead Tiki spirits at the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.

The occasion was a collision course of Tiki culture and rum appreciation known as the Zombie Jamboree, the kickoff party for the seven-day Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.

The evening consisted of three components. First, Tiki drink expert and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s seminar on the history of the Zombie cocktail, then the best contemporary mixologists competing in the “Zombie Jam,” followed by The Mai-Kai’s show and dinner.

When I first heard about this event, I had to pinch myself. Had I died and gone to Tiki heaven? My favorite Mai-Kai drink was being celebrated with a seminar by my mixology guru and a contest that was just beckoning for me to enter. So enter I did.

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Yo, ho, ho! Don’t miss Rum Renaissance this weekend in Miami

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

The Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, one of the world’s premier international rum events, wraps up this weekend at the Deauville Beach Resort on Miami Beach. If you’re a rum aficionado or local Tikiphile, you’ll want to be sure to catch this unique event.

Saturday and Sunday activities run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and include the opportunity to sample more than 100 rums, check out and purchase island lifestyle fashion and arts, and attend celebrity seminars and workshops.

The festival kicked off Monday at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale with the Zombie Jamboree cocktail seminar with author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Zombe Jam cocktail competition. Click here to see photos from those fun festivities.

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Photos from the Zombie Jamboree at The Mai-Kai

Wake the dead, it’s time for the Atomic Zombie Cocktail

Atomic Zombie Cocktail

* See our full report (with photos) on the Zombie Jamboree

As the only “amateur mixologist” at the first-ever “Zombie Jamboree” at The Mai-Kai, the kickoff of the annual spirits extravaganza known as Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, I had to come up with something special. After all, The Mai-Kai is my home turf and the Zombie is one of my favorite all-time drinks. The Mai-Kai’s version, with lineage traced back to the original Don The Beachcomber classic, is my favorite drink at the legendary Polynesian palace.

So what I came up with is a riff on the classic with contemporary stylings. It has that great classic Zombie flavor profile but with a few special twists. I hope you dig it.

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