Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 19, 2017—that’s the date of the Mai Tai Fest at the Royal Kona Resort.
The event lasts from 11 am to 7:30 pm and includes a variety of activities ending with the main highlight: the Mai Tai mix-off.
The mix-off is a contest between working bartenders to see who can mix up the best Mai Tai, as judged by a panel of chefs, industry experts, and Mai Tai enthusiasts.
The event is free to attend and open to all ages, but you’ll have plenty to spend your money on.
The festival will have Mai Tais for sale throughout the event, including winning recipes from past years (no free samples, sadly) as well as awesome food with a BBQ contest in the afternoon, live music, and local craftsmen and merchants offering their wares.
Hard to believe the tiki culture has survived this long—Don the Beachcomber’s original tiki bar “Don’s Beachcomber” opened in 1933.
For those of you unaware, Donn Beach (his legal name, but not his birth name) is the founding father of tiki bars and the “Polynesian-ish” bars and restaurants that are still around today.
Donn ended up being a friendly rival to Trader Vic, who you read about in Part 1, with both men claiming the original Mai Tai as their own invention.
Donn was also the originator of Waikiki’s International Marketplace, which he set up after losing legal control of his Don the Beachcomber restaurant chain to his ex-wife.
Today, there are a few bars and restaurants using his name, including—you guessed it—at the Royal Kona Resort.
The restaurant is exactly as kitschy as you’d expect, and serves amazing food and cocktails right on the Kona coastline.
After the restaurant opened in 2005, it was only logical that the Mai Tai Festival would follow soon in 2008.
Last year’s winner was Art Deakins from Bar Leather Apron in downtown Honolulu, who took home the $10,000 first-place prize as well as title of “World’s Best Mai Tai.”
Whoever wins this year, it’ll be a show to watch.
As for myself, I’ll be flying out to the Big Island for the day just to attend and check out the winning Mai Tai.
Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming blog post on the 9th Annual Mai Tai Festival after I’m done sleeping off my hango-
I mean processing all the photos I’ll be taking, of course.
It’ll be an experience.