3 Maui Bartenders are on their way to Bacardi Mai Tai Fest at the Royal Kona Resort

From Left: Ricky Supnet, Wendy Augustine, Ryan Burden, Jeff Felice, Dia Asada, Joel Fleck, Eric Martinez, Sasanna Babashoff, Julie Henson, Blair Anderson

You can’t be a bartender in Hawaii with out knowing the Mai Tai. While some may despise the drink,  others are willing to turn it into a creative outlet which I bore witness to at last week’s Mai Tai Mix Off preliminary competition at the Royal Lahaina. Ten bartenders went head to head in five seven minute rounds with their own personal recipes. The top three competitors will get a place at the Second Annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival held on August 14 at the Royal Kona Resort.


Judging Mai Tais, Its a Difficult Job But these guys are up for it From Left: Eric Gilliom, Chuck Bergson, Joey Gottesman, Sommer Meyer

Burdened with the hard job of tasting and scoring, judges Joey Gottesman, Better Brands, who also emceed the rounds, Eric Gilliom, Barefoot Natives, Sommer Meyer, Bacardi and Chuck Bergson of Pacific Radio Group did the major lifting.

The Competitors and their drinks:

Wendy Augustine, Tai Mai, Haliimaile General Store, Makawao, HI

Blair Anderson, Kamaaina Mai Tai, Mala Ocean Tavern, Lahaina, HI

Dia Asada, Summertime Mai Tai, The Fairmont Kealani, Wailea, HI

Sasanna Babashoff, “3 Tai”, Three’s Bar and Grill, Kihei, HI

Ryan Burden, Kipona Aloha- Mai Tai, Mala Ocean Tavern, Lahaina, HI

Jeff  Felice, Maita’i roa ae, Westin KOR, Lahaina, HI

Joel Flack, Full Boat, Royal Lahaina & Maui Brewing Co, Lahaina, HI

Julie Henson, Maihitotiatini, Kahele’s Beach Club, Kihei, HI

Jason Kashtan, Mai Tai Flip, Canoe’s Restaurant, Lahaina, HI

Eric Martinez, POG Tai, Four Season’s Maui, Wailea, HI

Ricky Supnet, The Peoples Mai Tai, Royal Lahaina, HI


Its good in the winner's circle, Jeff Felice, Blair Anderson, Ryan Burden

Blair Anderson from Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina took top honors with his Kama’aina Mai Tai. His recipe featured a very familiar combination the flavors of pineapple and orange, lime but he mixed it up with flavored Bacardi Limon and Bacardi O and Select, and featured a pineapple wedge infused with Bacardi coco, and a cocito garnish, a resulting understated but spectacular flavored drink. Anderson says he will have it available at Mala Ocean Tavern if you want a taste. Ryan Burden, also of Mala Ocean Tavern, was a close runner up with his Kiona Aloha Mai Tai. His concept was to create an organic, natural Mai Tai, and in doing so his 7 minutes on stage was a show stopper. He pressed his sugar cane juice on stage and ran off to the side to hack open a coconut with a macheteto harvest fresh coco water and young meat. His Mai Tai was creamy and dreamy. Also going to Kona to compete is Jeff Felice, from the Westin KOR, his Mai Tai featured fresh mint and local ingredients, but the highlight was his pineapple spear garnish that he designed a face out of raspberries and lime.


Above: Jeff Felice of Westin's KOR below: Julie Henson, Kahale's Beach Club

Julie Henson, Joey Gottesman and Julie's assistant who narrated

Julie Henson from Kahale’s Beach Club took away the People’s Choice Award. Her Maihitotiatini was a mash up between the Mohito and the Mai Tai and the Martini. Served in a Martini glass with plenty of mint flavor, her presentation included a narration of a the story behind the drink. From Kihei’s new Three’s Bar and Grill, Sossanna’s 3-tai featured an unusual garnish of red pepper and candy ginger, Bergson’s take on it, “The first taste is fruity flavor and you get a bit of the sugar rim, then I took a bite of the ginger for a new dimension of the drink. Then you bite into the pepper for the grand finale.” The full boat by Joel Flack, from Maui Brewing Co and Royal Lahaina, was a fruit smoothie sort of a Mai Tai. Fresh berry ice, thai basil, muddled frozen strawberries all contributed, along with the rum, the resulting Mai Tai acidic on first sip, but after a few moments the flavors bound together and smoothed out.


Torched Cherry Cocktail Anyone?

In between the competition rounds DJ Dan spun summer tunes that kept the Bacardi flowing. Bacardi launched a new flavor of rum, Torched Cherry which debuted here. In between Mai Tai’s I got a taste. On the cutting edge with flavor trends, Aloe is an up and comer and Bacardi has infused that flavor with Cherry. The rum is easy to mix and will bring a new meaning to Cherry Coke. When I first heard the name, I envisioned the aloe was “torched” or grilled or heated in some way to bring out flavor. However that is not true, the torched actually refers to the torch aloe, a particular plant. I tried it here with sprite and cranberry both flavors took a back seat to the cherry which came on strong, but not too sweet. It was quite good, like a spiked shirley temple. Gordon Chisholm, Brand Director of Flavored Rums at Bacardi explains, “The plant has not been roasted or torched. Torched is descriptive of the fiery orange and red color of the aloe blooms. The torch plant aloe is infused with the Barbados cherry rum base in order to add a complexity that is not available in any other cherry cleared flavored spirit. Torched Cherry delivers a complex rum that is refreshingly familiar and easy to mix.”

120789_3Some @Bacardi Torched Cherry Recipes to try:

1 part BACARDI® TORCHED CHERRY™ Flavored Rum
3 parts COCA-COLA®
Pour over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

1 part BACARDI® TORCHED CHERRY™ Flavored Rum
1½ parts SPRITE®
1½ parts pomegranate juice
Pour ingredients over ice and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
1 part BACARDI® TORCHED CHERRY™ Flavored Rum
3 parts cranberry juice
Pour ingredients over ice and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
1 part BACARDI® TORCHED CHERRY™ Flavored Rum
3 parts SPRITE®
Pour ingredients over ice and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
1 part BACARDI® TORCHED CHERRY™ Flavored Rum
1½ parts SPRITE®
1½ parts pomegranate schnapps
Pour ingredients over ice, stir and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Tom and Liz Bell, Chuck Bergson, Jim Falk, Sommer Meyer and Friends


Beautiful Sunset falls on Royal Lahaina at the Royal Terrace Lounge

The pool party was a blast, and the Royal Ocean Terrace Lounge was the perfect perch for Sunset on the West side. Between the action of the Mix Off, the pupus and the featured Bacardi cocktails everyone was having a blast. I had a chance to ask Chad Metcalfe, Metcalfe Restaurants, what he thought of the new Torched Cherry, his response, “I thought it was great. Kinda like one of those too good alcohols that when out in sun or on boat catches up ta ya good!” The pupus were a perfect combo with the rum, Don the Beachcomber would have been proud, I had shu mai, egg rolls, sushi, and coconut fried shrimp. Later after the sunset live entertainment by Shawn Mclaughlin &  Riese Perry got a whole new crowd around the stage for after hours fun. I had an amazing plate of ribs and sweet potato fries. Royal Lahaina Terrace offers 50% off select bottles of wine Mon, Wed, Fri all this month.

(Catch up with the Royal Lahaina on their facebook page)

All of this Mai Tai action is a precursor to the two day Mai Tai Festival that kicks off in August at the Royal Kona Resort, that honors the Mai Tai and tiki culture and includes a BBQ competition, The Mai Tai Battle and $10000 cash prize,and a Third Eye Blind Concert. Judges Sam Choy, Sam Choy Restaurants, William Ramos, Head Distiller for Bacardi Rum, Chris Teves, Hawaii Beverage Guide, and Beachbum Berry, Rum and Mai Tai expert will judge whose Mai Tai is the world’s best from 30 contestants, with about 15 coming in from Hawaii, and 15 from mainland and international locations.

Royal Ocean Terrace on Urbanspoon

About Jen Russo

I write lifestyle and food columns for MauiTime, love being a Maui girl and adore my big family. Dedicated food taster, blogger, internet fanatic, and Maui and Hawaii specialist.