By Lola Thelin Posted September 29, 2011, 1:30 PM EDT
MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA Tobacco Rum Miami and the Miami International Wine Fair teamed up for an official after-party celebrating 10 years of the fair and honoring the world of boutique wines, cigars, and rums at Tempo Miami in downtown Miami Saturday evening. The party, held in conjunction with the fair's three-day exhibition, drew 620 wine distributors, cigar aficionados, and rum lovers, including some who purchased $50 tickets on the Gilt Groupe Web site for a chance to sample almost 200 wines.
“Boutique cigars, like wine, require aging and are handcrafted,” said Tobacco Rum organizer Ozy Sanchez. “We also saw a strong similarity between rums. These are industries that are handed down from generation to generation.”
Co-sponsored by Cigar Snob magazine and Rums of Puerto Rico, the sampling event took over two rooms and a terrace overlooking the bay, for a total of 8,000 square feet of the hotel. “We looked everywhere, and [the hotel] offered the nightlife we wanted. It’s modern with outdoor space and views for the smokers to enjoy,” Sanchez said.
Minimal decor included tables of wine and illuminated bars. All-white walls were covered in 16-foot-long banners that promoted the fair and preview party for Tobacco Rum, a festival launching during Art Basel. Octametro provided the banners, two white bars, and mounted signs above the band stage. In the main room, volunteers from culinary school Le Cordon Bleu poured the medal-winning wines from the annual Florida International Wine Challenge. In the adjoining room, Caribbean and jazz band Bikini Jazz performed onstage for guests.
On the terrace, guests perused tables of hand-rolled cigars and rum exhibits. Guests took home cigar samples in a Rums of Puerto Rico bag.
The wine fair became a trade-only show this year, concentrating on bringing together wine producers and buyers. More than 250 wineries from 16 countries and 5,000 attendees gathered at the Miami Beach Convention Center from September 23 to 25.
New this year to the fair was the Florida Room, from first-time presenting sponsor HSBC Premier. In the 10,000-square-foot pavilion, the room connected wine producers and importers to local restaurants and retailers seeking new products. It also served as a home to several cigar booths, which promoted Tobacco Rum Miami.