Mai Tai Festival and Battle of the BBQ Winners Are…

The 9th Annual Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Festival happened this past Saturday at the Royal Kona Resort.  Over 20 of the top bartenders from around Hawaii and the mainland participated for a chance at $17,500 in prize money.

The day began with a “Battle of the BBQ” at the courtyard of the Royal Kona Resort where 13 restaurants competed for the coveted “People’s Choice Award” and the “Judges Choice Award”.

Broke Da Mouth Grindz took home the “People’s Choice Award” with a BBQ Beef dish topped w/ shrimp:

The Kona Butcher Shop took home the “Judges Choice Award” with a smoked brisket dish:

After the Battle of the BBQ was finished folks mingled throughout the courtyard as there were lots of craft vendors selling local Big Island Made products.

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker’s booth was one of the more popular shops.

People then moved on over to the Resort’s pool area where Henry Kapono performed in concert while folks enjoyed a casual pool party for a few hours.

Then at 4:30 the Mai Tai Festival began inside Don the Beachcombers where hundreds of folks gathered to watch some of the best bartenders compete in ten minute mix-offs with the judges getting to sample each of the Mai Tai’s after the mix-off.

The winners of the Mai Tai Festival were:

  1. Kevin Beary – 3 dots and a dash Chicago with the “Tricky Tricky Wiki Wiki”
  2. Justin Kipapa – Myna Bird – Honolulu
  3. Paul Schreuder – Bar Leather Apron Honolulu

Mai Tai Festival Director Jeff Isbister said, “These are 3 great bartenders all carrying the torch of the classic Tiki Cocktail into the mainstream. Both Justin and Kevin are returnees and both have finished in the top 3 in past events. We couldn’t ask for better representation than that. Paul is a first time competitor but he represents bar Leather apron which is owned by a two time winner and two time judge, Justin Park. These top tier mixologists are testament to how big the Mai Tai Fest has become. Kevin has come all the way from Chicago twice to compete. We’ve had competitors from all over the country and beyond.”

Television personality DJ Maleko helped emcee the event and Celebrity Chef Sam Choy was one of the Judges.

Bacardi USA was on hand and was giving folks a chance to win bottles of Bacardi by posting pictures of the event on Instagram and Twitter under the hashtag #BacardiUSA.

Isbister continued, “Another great event, we went into the planning for the 9th annual Mai Tai Festival with our sights firmly set on our tenth anniversary next year. Everyone’s focus was of course this year but we kept in the back of our minds the idea of what can we do bigger better and bolder for next year. I know Gary Hogan, Tom and Liz Bell and the staff here at the hotel promise the best event yet.”