Minimalist Tiki

The Hukilau crowns a Rum Barrel Master Mixologist

See below: Our Master Mixologist photo gallery | See all the drink recipes
Audio slideshow flashback: Contest was a Barrel of fun
Related: ‘Rum Rat Pack’ starts a revolution at Hukilau 2011 | Full Hukilau coverage

Bartending contest highlight of Tiki event’s kickoff party

On Thursday night, June 9, The Hukilau kicked off with a bang as five tropical drink mixologists created their own take on the classic Rum Barrel, squaring off live on stage at the Bahia Cabana Beach Resort.

The winning cocktail, Joe Desmond's Moon Barrel
The winning cocktail, Joe Desmond's Moon Barrel. (Photo by Wayne Curtis)

Using predetermined sponsor rums and mixers, plus other ingredients of their choice, they each had seven minutes to make one fully-garnished drink plus samples for the judges. Hosted by author and tropical drink historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the contest was a combination of cocktail seminar and Tiki party, with colorful drinks made in rapid-fire precision by the contestants and passed around the judging table.

Judging the contest were some of the top rum authorities in the world: UK Rumfest organizer Ian Burrell, San Francisco bar owner Martin Cate, journalist and author Wayne Curtis 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.
* Check out Wayne’s review of the Rum Barrel Challenge

The Master Mixologist Rum Barrel Challenge was sponsored by Montanya Rum and Fee Brothers, and both products were incorporated into all the drinks. Judges rated each drink on its originality, creativity, adherence to the theme, use of the required ingredients, taste (including balance and use of rums), and presentation.

Modern Caribbean Rum
Joe Desmond (with wife Nicole) accepts the grand prize, a custom sculpted muddler by artist Tom Fowner.
Joe Desmond (with wife Nicole) accepts the grand prize, a custom sculpted muddler by artist Tom Fowner.

After 90 minutes of mixing and a lot of repartee, the judges reached a verdict. The winner of the Master Mixologist Cocktail Challenge is …

Joe Desmond of New York’s Famous Rhum Rhum Room (Joe and wife Nicole’s acclaimed home bar) with his creation, The Moon Barrel. His grand prize was a custom-sculpted, hand-carved muddler by South Florida Tiki carver Tom Fowner. He also received a Mai-Kai gift certificate.

Joe edged out the defending Master Mixologist champion, Grady Johnson, who came in second with his Admiral Vernon’s Flagship. The other runners-up were Blair Frodelius, Pablus, and George Jenkins.

Scroll below the photos for all the drink recipes


Exclusive Atomic Grog photos
(Click on thumbnails to see larger images or to view as slideshow)

(Photos by Susan Hayward)

More: A barrel of photos from Go11Media, official photographer of The Hukilau

Audio slideshow flashback: Contest was a Barrel of fun


Master Mixologist Rum Barrel Challenge drink recipes

Following are recipes for all the competing drinks. If you’d like to try these at home, we’ve hyperlinked a few of the ingredients that may not be easy to find. If Montanya rum is unavailable in your area, substitute a Virgin Islands white (such as Cruzan) for the Platino, and a Jamaican gold (such as Appleton) for the Oro. Fee Brothers products are widely available online.

Joe Desmond makes a Moon Barrel while wife Nicole looks on.
Joe Desmond makes a Moon Barrel while wife Nicole looks on.

JOE DESMOND – The Moon Barrel

1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce Fee Brothers falernum
2 ounces Montanya Oro
1 ounce Smith & Cross rum
1 ounce Montanya Plantino
1 ounce honey syrup (1:1)
5 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters
5 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey barrel aged bitters
4 ounces Peach Lambic beer

Shake all ingredients except beer. Pour unstrained into a barrel mug and stir in the beer.

Garnish with an orchid or other flower and a big moon-like peach.


GRADY JOHNSON – Admiral Vernon’s Flagship

Grady Johnson makes his drink, Admiral Vernon's Flagship.
Grady Johnson makes his drink, Admiral Vernon's Flagship.

2 ounces Montanya Platino
2 ounces Montanya Oro
2 ounces fresh squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce Barcardi 8
1/2 ounce Fee Brothers falernum
4 dashes Fee Brothers old fashioned bitters
1/2 teaspoon Lucid absinthe
4 ounces Blenheim ginger ale (red cap)
Fresh nutmeg

Stir the Platino, Oro, grapefruit juice, falernum, bitters and absinthe in a Boston shaker. Add the ginger ale and gently shake with a little ice to mix but not lose the effervescence of the ginger ale. Fill a rum barrel glass with ice and fill to 1/4 inch of the top. Float the Bacardi 8 and grate fresh nutmeg on top. Add garnish and serve in a barrel mug with the following simple garnish:


To make a nice fleet of flagships, you will need: Thin dried mango slices, crystalized ginger cubes, one Valencia orange, toothpicks of assorted length, and 4-inch bamboo cocktail skewers.

To make the hull of the ship: Take the fresh orange and slice it into wedge-shaped eighths. Place a wedge on its side and cut the peak back around 1/8 inch to form a flattened deck when the wedge is standing upright on its rind.

To make the sails: Cut mango slices into little rectangles and triangles. Gently skewer them onto toothpicks in ones, twos, or threes, depending on how you want to rig your ship. Tip: You will want to cut some of the toothpicks down in length so you can vary the height of your masts without piercing the bottom of your ship.

Rig your ships, mateys: Take one of the bamboo skewers and run one of the cubes of crystalized ginger all the way to the end. Skewer the orange slice hull of your ship from end to end against the ginger. Install your masts/sails. Put a short toothpick in the bow to form a bowsprit.

Because your ship is not ballasted, it will roll in heavy seas. This is where the cube of crystalized ginger comes into play. Place the ship across the top of your mug with the bowsprit on the rim at one end and the rim between the stern and the ginger on the other. Use the cube of crystalized ginger as a clamp by snugging it up against the orange. Sails ho!



Blair Frodelius makes his drink, The Powderkeg.
Blair Frodelius makes his drink, The Powderkeg.

1 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce Campari
3/4 ounce Goya passion fruit cocktail
1/2 ounce rock candy syrup
2 ounces Montanya Platino
1 1/4 ounces Montanya Oro
3/4 ounce Cruzan Black Strap
2 dashes Fee Brothers whiskey barrel aged bitters
1 ounce Orangina

Serve in a barrel mug and garnish with a lit sparkler candle (to represent a fuse).


PABLUS – Jack Sparrow’s Rum Barrel

Pablus makes his drink, Jack Sparrow's Rum Barrel, while answering questions from emcee Jeff "Beachbum" Berry.

A spicy and haunting concoction from the magical waters of the Caribbean. Hints of coconut and black currant pierce this complex blend of (Her Majesty’s) Pusser’s rum, Fee’s falernum and other forbidden flavors.

2 ounces grapefruit juice
2 ounces orange juice (fresh squeezed)
2 ounces lime juice
1/2 ounce Coco Lopez
3/4 ounce Creme de Cassis
2 ounces Pusser’s rum
2 ounces Montanya Oro
3 dashes Fee Brothers lemon bitters
3/4 ounce passion fruit syrup
1/2 ounce Fee Brothers falernum

Shake with three handfuls of ice and pour, with ice, into a barrel mug.

Garnish with sugar cane sword and fresh mint.


GEORGE JENKINS – The Rain Barrel

Imagine, if you will, a magical rain barrel sitting in a picturesque garden, full to the brim with a traditional Rum Barrel cocktail. This rain barrel sits there, year after year, absorbing the flavors of the garden – the terrior, as the French call it – until one day, beckoned by a thirsty patron, this rain barrel is magically transported from the garden to your table.

George Jenkins makes his drink, The Rain Barrel, while emcee Jeff "Beachbum" Berry looks on.

And since the seasons are the primary influence on the character of a garden at any one time, we offer the customer choice of one of four garnishes to go with their Rain Barrel, each representing one of the seasons: Mint – summer; nutmeg – fall; coconut – the snows of winter; and spring is straight up, with a simple orchid flower.

The Rain Barrel (summer)

2 ounces Montanya Oro
2 ounces El Dorado Demerara rum
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce Fee Brothers falernum
1/2 ounce honey
1/4 ounce passion fruit syrup
1/4 ounce allspice liquor
2-4 dashes Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters
2 x 1/4-inch strips of red pepper

Garnish: Basil leaf, edible orchid, minced fresh mint, grated nutmeg, grated coconut

Muddle the red pepper in a mixing tin.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Add ice and shake vigorously.
Pour into a barrel mug.
Rub the basil leaf along the outside rim of the mug and discard.
Top with garnish.


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Jeff “Beachbum” Berry | Ian Burrell | Martin Cate | Wayne Curtis