Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival Announced

July 24, 2019, 4:18 PM HST (Updated July 24, 2019, 4:18 PM)
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The Royal Kona Resort announced the 11th annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival will be held on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. The festival will host some of the world’s top bartenders as they mix it up to compete for the title of World’s Best Mai Tai and a $10,000 grand prize.

Celebrity judges at this year’s event include the return of award-winning chef and TV personality, Aaron Sanchez, who is also a judge on the series MasterChef. He is joined by Shawn Ford, resident bar expert on the Bar Rescue show and Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, recognized by Imbibe Magazine as an influential cocktail personality. Topping off the panel of judges are brand ambassadors Manny Hinojosa representing Tequila Cazadores and Juan Coronado for Bacardi.

Royal Kona Resort overlooks Kailua Bay on the Island of Hawai‘i. Its annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival is free, open to the public and offers a range of family-friendly activities and entertainment.

Activities include:

  • Mai Tai Marketplace featuring crafts and island treats from local artisans and merchants from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Battle of the BBQ, serving some of Hawaii’s best barbecue from 11 a.m. 2 p.m.
  • A pool party featuring Hawaiian musical figure, Henry Kapono 2:30 to 4 p.m.

The main event, the Mai Tai Mix-off, will start at 4:30 p.m. Bartenders from all over the world will compete for the title of World’s Best Mai Tai. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000. Second- and third-place finishers will receive $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. The three-hour contest pays tribute to the classic rum drink and original cocktail creations are judged based on taste, creativity and name.

The 2018 Festival crowned Justin Park of Bar Leather Apron in Honolulu, Hawaii the winner of the $10,000 first-place prize and the title of World’s Best Mai Tai. Kevin Beary of Three Dots and A Dash in Chicago, Illinois placed second and Cory Star, also with Three Dots and A Dash, placed third.

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