For Robert, Robert Jr. and Robin Burr, rum isn't just a
type of liquor, it's a way of life.
"[Rum] is an incredible spirit," said the elder Robert,
the family's patriarch and founder of Miami's Rum Renaissance, which takes place
April 16-22. "And now it's experiencing a renaissance of appreciation as more
savvy consumers discover a truly remarkable range of fine rums from around the
Walking into the Burr residence in a quaint section of
Coral Gables, you don't really know what to expect. To the left as soon as you
walk in sits a rack with over 200 different selections of rum, which gives you
an idea. Venture into the backyard and past the pet peacock, and you come
across a homemade bar called "Rum Wreck Dive." If you really want to impress your
friends, check in on Facebook to this invite-only watering hole and wait for
the inquiries to file in.
Those fortunate enough to get an invite are treated to an experience perhaps only a few people on Earth can provide. Out come the rums, with every single rum-producing country and maybe even factory represented, a total of nearly 800 varieties. You have everything from earthy Guyanese and robust Jamaican rums to the old school Bajan spirits, exquisite blends from Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela and Peru, classics from Nicaragua and Puerto Rico, the complex rums of Martinique and Guadeloupe and the legacy rums of St. Lucia, Antigua and Trinidad.
With this incredible collection, it is no wonder the Burrs decided to start the Rum Renaissance back in 2009.
"A few days tasting rum in a small hotel is not my idea of a festival," said the younger Robert. "My father had participated in rum tasting contests around the world, so we figured it was about time to have one in the United States that really went the distance."
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Originally a small party at the Shore Club with around a thousand participants, the festival moved to the expansive Deauville Beach Resort last year to house the nearly 5,000 attendees. Your $40 ticket (in advance, $50 at the door) buys you admission to Rum Renaissance Grand Rum Tasting exhibits Saturday or Sunday, admission to all celebrity seminars, plus cocktail competitions and island lifestyle exhibits and a nifty rum guide and show program. But pace yourselves, because there is no limit to the number of rums you can try or how many times you can return to the same vendor. For a real value, only $250, which is nearly half the price of a bottle of Captain Morgan at any of South Beach's exclusive clubs, buys you all of the above for the entire festival plus admission to all the VIP parties. Most rum enthusiasts look forward to the rum challenge, which is a chance for people to test themselves by tasting rums and trying to identify their origin.
"With the economy where it is and people more hesitant to shell out money for leisure activities, we wanted to make it affordable for everyone, but at the same time exclusive," said Robin.
Transportation to and from the Mai Kai on Wednesday, April 18, is an additional fee ($20) and a limited number of bus tickets are available. Dinner and drinks are not included in the price of your VIP ticket -- however Mai Kai will offer RR participants a specially-priced dinner package which includes a complimentary drink and preferred seating for the Polynesian show.