Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rum Renaissance 2011: The VIP Experience

Going to Rum Renaissance is a must do, something to put on your list before you die; going VIP is an experience you will want to stay alive for forever. Is the price worth it you ask? One could analyze the cost for what the ticket provides. For example, simple math indicates if you attend just the VIP Parties and Grand Tastings, you would pay less than $30 per event. Each event allows for its own unique experience. Now add a treat like the Zombie Jamboree (see my recent post), numerous Celebrity Seminars, Cocktail Competitions and the Island Lifestyle Showcase and that equates to a solid investment in rum fun. For those who like crunching numbers, calculate this - RUM IS INCLUDED! For me, any assigned cost is irrelevant, like setting a price on time with friends and family. Evenings spent catching up with your rum loving mates and meeting new ones while making your way to different VIP venues tasting aged rums, drinking exotic cocktails and sampling specialty hors d'oeuvres is time well spent. Warmth from the sun, rum in my glass and long sandy beaches brings forth romantic images of a far away desert island. The romance of rum is apparent and melted a few hearts at the Rum Renaissance VIP events this year. Were you one of the lucky few? If not, here is a sampler of the VIP Party menu that left the feeling of complete satiety. A sort of South Beach Diet for rum lovers if you will.

Ron Brugal
(Blanco, Extra Viejo, Anejo)
Brugal VIP Party

A beautiful palm tree lined, grass area behind The Palms Hotel is the setting. Attractive smiles in Dominican attire greet us. Ron Brugal cocktails are served and La Flor Domicana cigars are being lit among the many appetizer plates that pass beneath your nose to disappear all too quickly. As darkness falls, live Latin music of Alto Nivel
Brugal Party
fills the air (live video) and the furniture begins to glow. Rum pairs perfectly with Latin music. Eyes become distracted by the stylish shoes moving quickly with the beat and in harmony with those provocative hip movements characteristic in Latin dancing. It is a Dominican Rum Party alright. Viva Ron Brugal! The rum flows and this party goes on and on...

Tobacco Road
Zafra VIP Party

Tobacco Road is the known as the oldest bar in Miami and an exciting location to sip a rum like Zafra Master Reserve Rum 21yr. Upon entering, one makes a short walk down memorabilia lane to find a patio and not surprisingly the scent of cigars and fine rum.
Zoriga's cigars
(at Tobacco Road)
A woman named Zoriga tells me she has been hand rolling cigars for 25 years. The speed and care I witness speak for themselves. They are picture perfect as the smoke fills the air amidst the waves of flash photography. If you were there, you may have had the pleasure of having an informative conversation with Zafra's Master Blender and Director, a living legend in fine rum making, Mr. Francisco "Don Pancho" Fernandez. I did and it was a conversation that I will not soon forget. (Thanks in part to my translator Joey Casanova!) Rum and more rum-filled fun is the motto here folks as we move on to...

Bacardi decor
Bacardi VIP Party

Bacardi Headquarters, almost like entering Fort Knox but perfect daiquiris are served here. Oh yeah! This functional museum of Bacardi artifacts is a must stop for any rum aficionado in the area. Here with your VIP badge you might admire age old cocktail recipes and take in some history while sipping a refreshing Bacardi mojito or Reserva Limitada (see my recent post) or both!
Robert A Burr and David Cid
We were given a special welcome from David Cid, Bacardi's Brand Master Apprentice, who also lectured at one of the Seminars offered at Rum Renaissance. Notice in the photo to the right, Mr. Burr has curious smile about him. The master plan he knows and later that evening RumXPs had the rare opportunity to have a tasting and meet Facundo L. Bacardi, Chairman of the Board and the great-great grandson of the founder, Don Facundo Bacardi. Wow!! Moving on...

Chesterfield Browne
Mount Gay VIP Party

Chesterfield Browne, International Brand Ambassador & Mixologist for Mount Gay Rum, says it best, "Mount Gay Rum is the rum that invented rum!" Set up outside at the SOHO Beach House, live music and mixed drinks flood the party. 
Paul Yellin and Robert A. Burr
Oh, did I mention the food? Mouth watering morsels under the direction of Paul Yellin a.k.a.,The Rhum Chef, couldn't come out fast enough. The presentation and delicious flavors left many a serving plate empty within minutes as they entered the crowd. Check out his latest book, Infusion: Spirited Cooking in the Caribbean for a taste at home. Chester, who also presented at the Seminars is great fun to talk rum with and listen to. (Northwest readers should know he will be in Seattle, WA later this month!) Soon, the luxurious Mt. Gay 1703 was being enjoyed neat as the party became standing room only. Success!

Rum on yo...more parties!

Abuelo VIP Party

Passing through the entrance to the VIP party sponsored by Ron Abuelo proved difficult for many. Many stopped for photos if not just to ogle. Few words can capture the essence of a moment in time like a photo. (See below) Ron Abuelo's attractive presentation at Rum Renaissance is difficult to best and fitting for such a well-rounded line of rums. Located in the famous Deauville Beach Resort Jazz Club, this party was convenient and a practical segue for an afterparty. An excited crowd reveled in the various Abuelo rums before video screens displaying many rum making processes
Ron Abuelo Girls & David Russell
(holding Ron Abuelo Centuria)
 at Varela Hermanos S.A., the site where Ron Abuelo is made. Rum punch and fish bowl antics from behind the bar and a celebratory introduction to Ron Abuelo Centuria by Ricardo March, VP Sales and Marketing at Varela Hermanos S.A., marked an incredible evening. Winning!!

VIP Please and Thank You!


  1. Great coverage of the parties Nick. It was a great week for rum.

  2. Great coverage Nick! Nice presentation of Abuelo. Makes me want to get another bottle of Ron Abuelo 7yr!