Rum Renaissance Festival: Judging 19 Rums in Less Than an Hour

All photos by Laine Doss
Beautiful color.
It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it, I suppose.

Each year, in addition to tastings, seminars, and general rum-infused revelry, the Miami Rum Renaissance festival hands out awards for the world's best rums in several categories. The awards will be announced Friday in a gala presentation where thousands of rum enthusiasts are expected to gather.

Winning an XP award is a big thing, with medals of achievement proudly placed around the necks of the bottles that have proved to be superior by a drunk esteemed panel of judges over the course of several days of swirling, sniffing, and sipping. So who are these people who taste rum on a professional basis, anyway?

See also: Miami Rum Renaissance Festival and Miami Cocktail Week

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Miami's Inaugural LitCrawl Happens Friday

Categories: Booze Hound

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library via CC
Peter Orlovsky and Jack Kerouac could have never imagined that combining poetry and bar-hopping -- what they called a regular night out -- would become an organized event decades later.
Pub crawls have become somewhat of a thing in the Magic City, and now annual poetry festival O, Miami introduces this city's first LitCrawl.

San Francisco spawned the first LitCrawl in 2006 by adding literary events to an evening of bar-hopping. Soon, other cities, including London, New York, Chicago, Austin, and Los Angeles, joined.

Miami's inaugural LitCrawl takes place this Friday, and is touted as a "choose your own adventure" evening of liquor and literature taking place in South Beach.

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Miami Rum Renaissance Festival and Miami Cocktail Week: Win VIP Tickets UPDATED

Photo by Laine Doss
Free VIP tickets right here. Write the folks back home!
Hold on to your liver, matey.

The Miami Rum Renaissance Festival returns to the DoubleTree Hotel Miami Airport Convention Center April 25 to 27. (Friday, April 25, is open to trade only.)

Over the years, the festival has grown from a poolside fete to a multiday event that features mixology competitions, formal rum judging by a panel of experts, seminars, a lifestyle marketplace (because you need a set of tiki glasses and a puffy pirate shirt), and a mega rum-tasting experience.

And by mega, we're talking more than 80 rum producers from as near as Miami and as far as the Philippines.

With all this growth, however, the festival is still a family affair, which is probably why the event still feels like an intimate gathering with friends to drink some good rum -- ya know, if your friends happened to have 200 rums on hand for you to try.

See also: Miami Rum Renaissance Festival Returns: VIP BOGO Offer

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Norwegian Getaway: Bar Lab Cocktails, Dining by Geoffrey Zakarian on Board

All photos by Laine Doss
Welcome aboard. Have a Bar Lab cocktail.
You might have seen her while driving along the MacArthur Causeway. She's the gigantic ship with the colorful mermaid, designed by Miami artist Lebo, dancing on her hull.

That's Norwegian's newest cruise ship, the Getaway. The massive, 145,655-ton vessel can accommodate nearly 4,000 passengers on its weekly sailings from the Port of Miami. It boasts an on-board water park, performances of Broadway shows, a Grammy museum complete with music memorabilia (including Whitney Houston's dress), and a dinner theater-in-the-round. Of course, there's plenty of food -- nearly 30 dining options, to be more specific.

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Wine by the Bay in Downtown Miami: Taste Wines From Around the World

Photo by Cassie Glenn
It's difficult to capture Stefano Campanini's attention for more than a couple of minutes. Owner of downtown Miami's Wine by the Bay, he has a passion for the product and a charming Italian demeanor that have earned him many fans who wave as they walk by or stop in to say hello and grab a bottle on the way to a dinner party. They trust his opinion, fine-tuned during years of travel and study, and have come to rely on what he believes is one of the few mom-and-pop stores in the area.

The small staff of four jokingly refers to the job title as PD: professional drinker. After only a brief conversation, you realize they all know their stuff. Tasting upward of 150 wines a week, they have a grasp on every bottle in the store and can help you make the best choice.

While Wine by the Bay boasts an impressive selection ranging in price from $11.95 to $2000-plus, it also offers weekly tastings to educate the public on wines from around the world. These events include plenty of vino, good company, and some tasty bites.

See also: Best New Wine Store Miami 2013 - Wine By the Bay

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Redbar Relaunch: Sexy Cocktails, Vintage Vibe

Redbar via Facebook
Sexy cocktails in a vintage atmosphere.
Redbar, the mixed-use cocktail lounge, gallery space in Brickell, is celebrating a relaunch.

The bar, henceforth known as Redbar Drink Company, has gotten a retro facelift. Decked out in a New-Orleans-meets-Chicago-speakeasy style, the space features vintage furnishings with rich sepia and burgundy hues.

What's also notable about the new-and-improved Redbar Drink Company is their crafted cocktail program. Antar Sosa and Dobomir Dimitrov, who have successfully worked on Barezzito and the Shore Club, have curated some of Miami's best cocktail experts to create a collection of specialty drinks.

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Kush Hosts Lagunitas Why Wait? With Rare Tapping of Waldo Keg

Categories: Booze Hound

CC Flickr/edwin
Use of the term "420" has become so universally recognized and tossed around so much in the American vernacular that its origins have become somewhat obscure. But the real story about the how and why are likely to emerge this Saturday at Kush over a rare keg of Waldo's Special Ale brought by Lagunitas Brewing Company during the Why Wait? event.

Normally, events related to 4/20 are observed April 20, but this one will begin at 4:19 p.m. the previous day.

See also: World of Beer Kendall Hosts Lagunitas Sessions

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Mo Bar Offers Mad Men-Style Cocktails and Class (Recipes)

Categories: Booze Hound

Angelo Viera kicks it old school.
The final season of Mad Men premeired last night, which means it's time to start salivating. While some of us will froth at the mouth over Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) and others will drool over Joan Harris (played by Christina Hendricks), all of us will slobber over the slew of classic cocktails featured on the show.

Most Miami watering holes serve drinks that represent either the frat-party pathos of National Lampoon's Animal House or the self-indulgent pomposity of Gus Van Sant's Last Days. The former variety consists of frozen, alcohol-laden concoctions served in giant plastic cups, and the latter are presented as pretentious, overly creative cocktails that hipsters pretend to enjoy while silently yearning for some craft beer.

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Third Annual Ommegang HopChef Competition at the Biltmore April 28

Categories: Booze Hound

Courtesy of Blaze PR
Brewery Ommegang is busting out with its third annual HopChef Competition at the BIltmore Hotel on April 28, pitting several Miami chefs against each other to see who can make the best beer and food pairing.

Eight prominent Miami chefs are currently in the process of developing their dishes for the event. Just earlier this week at a media-only event, the chefs met at the Biltmore to select their Ommegang beers to be paired with their respective plates.

See also: Ommegang Game of Thrones Release Party and Beer Dinner at R House March 26

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Spring Garden to Glass Cocktails at Rose Bar at Delano

Categories: Booze Hound

Courtesy Rose Bar at Delano
The Tequilamockingbird. Fresh and literary cocktail.
To kick off the Spring season, Rose Bar at Delano is mixing up a batch of "farm to glass" cocktails.

The libations are created by Delano South Beach's head mixologist, Bernie Waters, who decided that the fresh fruits and herbs coming from local South Florida farms are just too good to not be utilized in a drink. Waters tell us that the inspiration behind the drinks were the colorful fruits. "When in the tropics, people are drawn towards warm, brilliant colors and light spirits, so I wanted to reflect those proclivities in my drinks."

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