Modern Caribbean Rum

Audio slideshow flashback: Hukilau 2011 cocktail contest was a Barrel of fun

The 2012 Hukilau will be held Thursday through Sunday, April 19-22, at The Mai-Kai and several Fort Lauderdale beachside hotels. Official sites: TheHukilau.com | Facebook

Previous flashbacks: 2010 party features Shag | Los Straitjackets highlight 2009
Related posts: Polynesian Pop movie sneak peak and other Hukilau updates
Beachbum Berry digs deep to unearth vintage Zombies | Full Hukilau coverage

Hukilau 2011

It seems like every year The Hukilau comes up with a new twist on the concept of a Tiki-themed weekend party. You never know what great band or special event will surprise and entertain you. With this year’s event fast approaching – it kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday – now’s the time to scour the schedule for cool and unique happenings.

Last year, one of the highlights took place on Thursday night, June 9, during the kickoff party at the Bahia Cabana Beach Resort. Five tropical drink mixologists faced off in the Master Mixologist Rum Barrel Challenge to see who could impress a who’s who of rum experts with their own take on the classic cocktail made famous at The Mai-Kai.

The contest was held live on stage following the night’s musical performances and certainly lived up to its billing. It was hosted by tropical drink author and guru Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and judged by his hand-picked Rum Rat Pack, four of the most noted experts in the field. The five contestants were given 7 minutes each to prepare their creations for the judges. What ensued was a rum-soaked flurry of mixology and creativity that impressed the judges and entertained hundreds in attendance.

Click here or on the images above and below to take a look back at this action-packed contest. Then click on the play button and be sure to turn up your speakers!

Continue reading “Audio slideshow flashback: Hukilau 2011 cocktail contest was a Barrel of fun”

Minimalist Tiki

Audio slideshow flashback: Hukilau’s 2010 opening party reached a new level of overindulgence

The 2012 Hukilau will be held April 19-22 at The Mai-Kai and several Fort Lauderdale beachside hotels. Official sites: TheHukilau.com | Facebook page | Facebook group

Other flashbacks: 2011 contest was a Barrel of fun | Los Straitjackets highlight 2009
Related posts: Beachbum Berry digs deep to unearth vintage Zombies
Hukilau announces mug, cocktails, new rum sponsor | Full Hukilau coverage

Hukilau 2010

The annual Tiki weekender known as The Hukilau is famous for giving participants unprecedented hands-on access to the best bands, artists and cocktail experts in the modern Polynesian Pop movement. It’s a laid-back affair where friends old and new enjoy live music, mingle at special themed parties and show off their devotion to the world of retro culture.

At no time was this on display better than at the opening night party in 2010, when hundreds of revelers were treated to an ultimate trip into the world of Tiki culture. The Bahia Cabana Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale played host to a whirlwind evening of live music, room parties and cocktail contests.

With this month’s 11th annual Hukilau fast approaching, let’s take a look back at that night of revelry with another special audio slideshow. Click here or on the images above and below to relive all the hijinks. Then click on the play button and be sure to turn up your speakers!

Continue reading “Audio slideshow flashback: Hukilau’s 2010 opening party reached a new level of overindulgence”

A barrel of new photos from The Hukilau’s Master Mixologist Challenge

Audio slideshow flashback: Contest was a Barrel of fun
Related: Hukilau crowns Master Mixologist (photos, recipes) | Full Hukilau coverage
Official sites: TheHukilau.com | Facebook | Flickr | Go11Media

Joe and Nicole Desmond will return to New York's Famous Rhum Rhum Room (their acclaimed home bar) with an award-winning drink and one-of-a-kind grand prize. (Photo by Go11Media.com)
Joe and Nicole Desmond will return to New York's Famous Rhum Rhum Room (their acclaimed home bar) with an award-winning drink and one-of-a-kind grand prize. (Photo by Go11Media.com)

Go11Media, the official photographer of The Hukilau, has just completed updating its massive archive of photos from the 2011 Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale. Bill Dillard and company did their usual great job of capturing the spirit of the event. If you’ve got a spare hour or two, mix a cocktail and put one some exotica tunes while you browse these colorful galleries.

One of the last batch that was posted earlier this week was all the action from the Master Mixologist Rum Barrel Challenge, which was organized by The Atomic Grog on Thursday night, June 9, at the Bahia Cabana Beach Resort. We’ve covered the event extensively and posted our own photos, but the Go11Media shots are too good to pass up. We’ve taken the liberty of picking our favorites and posting them below.

To set the scene: The mixologists took the stage following live surf and exotica music by The Intoxicators and Tikiyaki Orchestra as part of the poolside kickoff party. They came armed with their own interpretations of the classic Barrel O’ Rum, one of the signature tropical drinks at the legendary Mai-Kai. The event was hosted by tropical drink author and historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and judged by his hand-picked Rum Rat Pack, four of the most noted experts in the field. The five contestants were given 7 minutes each to prepare their creations for the judges.

Gentlemen, start the mixology …

Continue reading “A barrel of new photos from The Hukilau’s Master Mixologist Challenge”

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

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

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.

Continue reading “The Hukilau crowns a Rum Barrel Master Mixologist”

Hukilau 2011 video preview: A Tiki-lover’s dream event

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: A decade of The Hukilau (video) | Mixologists vie to build a better Barrel

All history lessons should be this fun

Now entering its 10th year, The Hukilau has become not only the largest Tiki-themed event on the East Coast, but also a museum of Polynesian Pop and mid-century modern art, culture, music and much more.

The Hukilau

Most of the weekend’s events celebrate and honor the history of the original Tiki movement, which began in the 1930s and was fueled by vets returning from the Pacific after World War II in the 1940s, the statehood of Hawaii in the 1950s, and the boom of cocktail culture in the 1960s.

What had once been a vibrant culture lay dormant for several decades until it was rediscovered in the 1990s by the retro-loving underground art, music and cocktail scenes. By the turn of the century, a revival was in full swing and events such at The Hukilau were launched.

Now, 10 years down the road, the word “revival” may no longer be relevant as a whole new generation of artists, musicians and mixologists has evolved. With much due respect to the past, they’ve put their own modern spin on Tiki culture and will be showing off their talents at The Hukilau.

A day-by-day preview of events …

Continue reading “Hukilau 2011 video preview: A Tiki-lover’s dream event”

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.

Continue reading “The Hukilau challenges mixologists: Can you build a better Barrel?”