Modern Caribbean Rum

Mai-Kai cocktail review: The Barrel O’ Rum is the Rodney Dangerfield of tropical drinks

The Barrel Before Christmas was part of The Mai-Kai's holiday pop-up in December 2019

Updated December 2023
See below: Updated tribute recipe | NEW: Barrel Before Christmas tribute
* Our Barrel O’ Rum review | Official recipe
Postscript: The Rum Barrel on social media
Related: Master Mixologist Rum Barrel Challenge
* Mai-Kai cocktail guide

There is no doubt that the Barrel O’ Rum (aka Rum Barrel) is the signature cocktail at The Mai-Kai in South Florida. From the iconic mug to the big, boozy yet accessible flavor profile, it epitomizes the over-the-top experience you’ll find at the 67-year-old Tiki temple.

The women's version of The Mai-Kai's new Rum Barrel T-shirt, based on the artwork for the upcoming cocktail menu by artist Eric October.
The women’s version of The Mai-Kai’s new Rum Barrel T-shirt, based on the artwork for the upcoming cocktail menu by artist Eric October.

After the Polynesian Islander Revue and the historic property itself, one of the first images that jumps to mind is delighted guests holding “Barrels,” as they’re affectionately known, soaking up the vintage atmosphere. And while we’ve been able to enjoy take-home quarts and gallons of the “spirituous libation” since early in the pandemic in April 2020, we sadly have not been inside the hallowed halls for an evening of regular service since a catastrophic roof collapse in October 2020.

Luckily, the multimillion-dollar renovation project is now in the home stretch, with a hoped-for reopening in early 2024. Takeout cocktails have become more scarce as construction ramps up, so we thought it would be a great time to revisit our tribute to the Barrel O’ Rum.

We made just one small addition to the earlier version posted in April 2020. The timing is perfect to share the update and more detailed mixing notes during The Hukilau, the annual Tiki weekender that invades South Florida every summer and has been the occasion for many Barrels to be consumed over the past 20 years.

During Sunday’s closing Tiki Brunch, The Atomic Grog joined Matt “Spike” Marble for a live recording of his popular YouTube show, Spike’s Breezeway Cocktail Hour, to mix a few Rum Barrels. Guests in attendance were treated to a large batch of Barrels, thanks to The Hukilau’s bar team.

It was the culmination of a weekend featuring multiple ways to enjoy The Mai-Kai as we await the grand reopening. Next year, undoubtedly, we’ll be toasting The Mai-Kai’s return with a Barrel O’ Rum.

The Hukilau highlights: Photos and memories from Tiki weekender

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