Modern Caribbean Rum

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.

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Minimalist Tiki

Hukilau Countdown Party on May 20 at The Mai-Kai

Join us at the fabulous Mai-Kai for the Hukilau 2011 10th anniversary Countdown Party on Friday, May 20. In addition to the normal happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. there will be a special late-night happy hour with music for dancing (and drinking) starting at 9 p.m. Half-price drink specials run from 10 p.m. until midnight.

The Hukilau

There will be prizes and giveaways from The Hukilau and The Atomic Grog will be on hand to give away tickets to Dick Dale’s upcoming South Florida concerts in June.

Come early and stay late as we start to get in The Hukilau spirit for this year’s 10th anniversary and also the upcoming 55th anniversary of The Mai-Kai.

The Hukilau, founded in 2002 in Atlanta and moved to Fort Lauderdale in 2003, has grown to become the premiere event on the East Coast for Tiki devotees worldwide. The Hukilau features live music and themed entertainment, informative seminars, acclaimed artisans and vendors plus dining and cocktails at one of the world’s great Polynesian restaurants, The Mai-Kai.

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Photos from the April 29 dance party at The Mai-Kai

Dance party at The Mai-Kai

See the event preview

Bodies were moving and The Molokai bar was packed last night as the legendary Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale became a haven for hipsters and hangers-on during the latest late-night dance party hosted by the gang from Radioactive Records.

DJs Sensitive Side, James Brown’s Sweat and Mikey R. rocked the house with the sounds of Soul, ’50s and ’60s R&B, punk, mod, trash, rockabilly, garage and more.

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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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Late-night dance party April 29 at The Mai-Kai

Check out the blog and event preview in New Times

The legendary Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale will be hosting one of its semi-annual late-night dance parties on Friday, April 29.

DJs Sensitive Side, James Brown’s Sweat and Mikey R. will be spinning the sounds of Soul, ’50s and ’60s R&B, punk, mod, trash, rockabilly, garage and more.

Festivities begin in The Molokai bar around 9 p.m. with a special happy hour running from 10 p.m. to midnight with half-price on the Mai-Kai’s famous tropical drinks and appetizers.

There will also be giveaways from Radio Active Records and The Atomic Grog will be on hand to give away tickets to Dick Dale’s upcoming South Florida concerts in June.

Click here for the Facebook event.

The Mai-Kai is at 3599 N. Federal Highway.

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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Zombie Jamboree: The Mai-Kai hosts an event to die for

The Miami Rum Renaissance Festival kicks off today with a “Zombie Jamboree” at the legendary Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale from 5 to 7 p.m.

Invented by tropical drink and Tiki bar pioneer Don The Beachcomber in the 1930s, the infamous Zombie cocktail took the world by storm more than 75 years ago. When the great wave of Polynesian Pop faded in the 1970s, so did the Zombie. Its secret original recipe was seemingly lost forever with only a few remaining Tiki palaces, such as The Mai-Kai, carrying on Don The Beachcomber’s legacy.

Beachbum Berry unearthed classic Zombie recipes
Beachbum Berry unearthed classic Zombie recipes

But then along came the Tiki revival of the 1990s and “cocktail archaeologist” Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. He unearthed long-forgotten Zombie recipes in his seminal books Grog Log (1998) and Intoxica (2002), both recently re-released in the revised and updated anthology Beachbum Berry Remixed (2010).

But it was Berry’s fourth book, Sippin’ Safari (2007), that truly blew the lid off the great “lost” tropical drink recipes and the people behind them. An entire chapter explores the Zombie and its history, finally nailing down the true “original recipe.” The book’s final chapter is devoted to The Mai-Kai, one of the last places on earth making drinks directly descended from the Don The Beachcomber classics.

At the Zombie Jamboree, Berry will present his graduate-level thesis seminar on the original creation of – and the further evolution of – the Zombie cocktail, featuring samples of Don’s classic 1934 and 1956 recipes for guests to taste.

The seminar will be followed by the “Zombie Jam,” demonstrations by notable mixologists – including yours truly – with their own variations of the infamous Zombie cocktail. Guests will be asked to vote for the drink they enjoy most with the winner crowned “Zombie Master” of Rum Renaissance 2011.

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