Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bacardí Triangle - 3 Rummy Days

It may be frigid and icy here in NYC, but today I'm reminiscing on a recent trip to Puerto Rico for the Bacardí Triangle.  At the end of October, I was invited to what was to be a massive 3 day party celebrating all things rum and electronic dance music with pool parties, endless cocktails, and a concert on a private island.  It did not take much convincing.  I was in. 

The Bacardí Triangle was designed to be "one of the most epic events on the planet", and epic it was.  Bacardí flew 1,862 people to the Caribbean Island from all over the world, and headlining the concert on the final evening: Ellie Goulding, Kendrick Lamar, and Calvin Harris


I flew to Puerto Rico and was whisked away to the El Conquistador Resort on the North East tip of the Island.  The resort is massive - cut into the hills of the island with cascading pools, terraces, and palm tree lined courtyards.  The views from the hotel into the Caribbean were post card perfect.  I was shown to my room, which entailed a walk through the lobby, down an elevator, along a gorgeous breezeway to a funicular, down 2 stops to the marina, through a jungle like outdoor corridor, and finally to my room that overlooked the marina.  Fortunately, there was a bottle of Bacardí 8 year waiting for me. 

I was one of the first to arrive, so I took advantage of the quiet at the pool and went for a dip at the Las Olas pool, which I would soon learn would have the best cocktails!

That evening, I met up with a few writer friends who were also lucky enough to be included in the 1,862 guests of Bacardí, and we headed to the first party held overlooking 3 cascading swimming pools at the hotel's main building.  Frozen Piña Coladas?  Don't mind if I do!

Happiness is a Cold Piña Colada
The Calm Before the Storm
Maybe you're wondering, who exactly was at this massive party?  Bacardí hand-selected social media influencers, press, and tickets were also opened up for contest winners through the Bacardí website as well as for fans of Ellie Goulding, Kendrick Lamar, and Calvin Harris.  The talent brought their entourages, which were in some cases, a few hundred people!  In addition to all of the guests, Bacardí flew in what can only be described as a swat team of bartenders from all over the world.  Vice Magazine brought in a large crew of people, including one of my favorites from the Vice channel, Eddie Huang (who I got to meet!).  There were also a few playboy models, reality stars, a bachelor (from the show), and me

The next day, I ran into a few friendly faces from New York City.  Bartenders are always up for a good time, and apparently really like cocktail themed clothing.  I was wearing my cocktail dress (of course), and Bacardí Brand Ambassador Jacob Briars, Steve Schneider, and Zdenek Kastanek wanted to make a few edits to my cocktail dress!!! 

Suddenly in need of a boozy tropical rummy beverage, I made my way up to Las Olas for my own rum filled pineapple.  Manning the bar was a man who can only be described as the Jack Sparrow of Cocktails.  Behold:

Modern Day Hero
The pineapples were a total hit - the Las Olas bar went through over 200 pineapples in just 4 hours, and thousands more over the next few days!

Boozy Pineapple in Paradise
Then it was time for a mixology class where I learned how to make a proper Island Punch Rum Swizzle!  I forgot to write down the recipe, so here's a recipe for a traditional Rum Swizzle:

Rum Swizzle

2 oz Bacardí Superior Rum
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum Liqueur
1/4 oz Simple Syrup

Pour ingredients into a low ball glass full of crushed ice.  Use a swizzle stick for a solid minute to mix the drink.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and a cocktail umbrella.  

We ventured out of the resort for dinner and went to Kasavista where we had Calamari, Fried Puertorican Cheese with Chorizo, Grouper Nuggets, and Conch Fritters, and Mofungo.

After dinner we went on a kayak tour of one of Puerto Rico's bio-luminescence bays.  We started late, waiting on a group of 13 to show up.  Suddenly, a van pulls up and drops off Ellie Goulding and her entourage to go kayaking!  We paired up and took to the water - each of our kayaks had a blue glow stick on it so we could identify who was in our group.  Although I tried to get some good photos of the kayaking, the light was just too dark but this was pretty much what it looked like:

We kayaked through the mangroves for about 30 minutes to Laguna Grande, which was filled with bio-luminescent plankton.  The water illuminated bright blue as we paddled through the water, and as the fish swam by the boat, they left glittering trails behind.  It was impossible to photograph, so you will just have to see it for yourself!   

Back on shore, the Halloween party had already started.  We costumed up, and headed over to the water park where the festivities were being held.  Behold The Kraken:

Once again, the evening ended with sipping Bacardí 8 next to the pool, but this time in costume.  Which means, selfies: 

The next morning we were off for a tour of the Bacardí Distillery.  We learned about the history of the Bacardí Family, and the family's history of throwing epic parties.  Even in the early days of Bacardí when they were based in Cuba, the family was known for throwing massive parties with live music and copious amounts of rum. 

Bacardí wanted to continue the tradition of throwing amazing parties with live music, but wanted to do it in a contemporary way.  Apparently, all the "kids" are listening to EDM these days - that's electronic dance music for those of you who have no clue what EDM stands for (like me).  Many studies of millennials have indicated that said kids want amazing (brag worthy) experiences rather than things, and Bacardí created one epic weekend with the intent of filling social media feeds with photos of the #BacardíTriangle, the Caribbean, Rum Cocktails, EDM, Selfies, and Pool Parties.

Selfie with Pineapple
After a brief tour of the visitor center, the barrel warehouse, and a drive through the beautiful Bacardí Campus it was time for lunch of traditional (and insanely delicious) Puerto Rican food and a toast of Bacardí Reserva Limitada (also insanely delicious).  

Barrel Tasting!
Sugar Cane in Dramatic Lighting

The Bacardí Bat
View over the Bacardí Distillery Grounds

When we got back to the hotel people were already lining up to take the ferry to Palomino Island where the party's finale was to be held.  The line snaked around the marina and machete-wielding gentlemen served up fresh coconuts with silver rum to the anxious crowd. 

Put the Rum in the Coconut

After what seemed like a never ending line situation, we finally made it to Paolmino Island.  A drink was needed.

Bacardí set up an impressive Triangular shaped stage next to the beach, a massive stage set-up with lights and LED screens.  Surrounding the island were thousands of boats, the people of Puerto Rico heard there was a party, and came for the show!  And it was time to party!

Party Boats Surrounding the Island
Drum Circles!

Rum Swizzles were sipped, bare feet danced in the sand, and laughs were shared amongst friends. 

The sheer scale of this event was impressive - especially considering the massive amount of coordination that is required to pull off an event of this scale. While the Bacardí Triangle was the first party of its kind, I think it sets a new precedent for monumental branded events.  It seems as though immersive events are the way of the future - and the cellphone camera has become a critical tool for new media.  So the question really is, does a selfie have the same power as a traditional advertisement?  The jury is still out, and probably will be until the next major trends in media come to light.  One thing I know for sure is that The Bacardí Triangle was, without a doubt, an amazing feat and we have all 7,147 instagram posts to prove it. 

Still Thirsty?!?

Make a rummy drink!

Bounce - Inspired by Calvin Harris

30 ml Bacardí Superior Rum
20 ml Creme de Cacao
10 ml Benedictine
25 ml lime juice
2 t sugar

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.  Garnish with a lime zest. 

Forbidden Fruit - Inspired by Kendrick Lamar

50 ml Bacardí 8 Year Rum
30 ml Citrus Juice Blend (equal parts lime, orange and grapefruit juice)
15 ml Passionfruit Syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake with Ice and Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.  Garnish with Fresh mint and an orange wedge.

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