Rum Shakers Bartender Dance Champions Travel To Puerto Rico: The Home of Bacardí

In 2022, Rum Shakers presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation and sponsored by BACARDÍ, officially returned calling bartenders in Chicago, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and San Diego to the dance floor. 

After being split up into duos and trios, the participating bartenders were asked to create their own dance routine, drawing inspiration from dance styles they learned throughout the Rum Shakers classes. Each city had its own Final Showcase where the teams went head-to-head in an epic competition, including a freestyle dance-off to determine the winners.

Those lucky enough to be crowned a Rum Shakers Champion traveled to Puerto Rico with the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation and BACARDÍ to experience the vibrant culture of the home of BACARDÍ Rums.

While winning a trip to Puerto Rico is an epic prize, Rum Shakers stands for much more. This bartender dance program has captured the hearts of many in the industry and the around the world. While many programs focus on cocktail skills, technique, and knowledge, Rum Shakers offers an equal opportunity for bartenders from all bar types and stages of their careers to be active participants. We want everyone in the industry to feel they can take part in doing what moves them both physically and emotionally, while creating bonds and friendships through artistic expression of dance.

A-K Hada, National Brand Ambassador for BACARDÍ Rums, shared with us, “What is so wonderful about the Rum Shakers program is that it focuses on movement, joy, and bonding. There are plenty of competitions and programs centered around the craft and technical aspects of the industry, but it’s important to remember that a huge part of being a great bartender or server is our humanity, the ability to host, converse, and bring energy into a space. Rum Shakers is one of, I hope, many more programs that focus on supporting the PEOPLE in our industry beyond the bar.”

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Partnerships Director, Taylor Barron, also shared, “Tales of the Cocktail Foundation created our Beyond the Bar® platform in 2018 to support bartenders in all facets of their lives, and Rum Shakers brings this mission alive. As a bartending competition that goes beyond cocktail creation, Rum Shakers gives bartenders the opportunity to connect with others in the industry, spread joy in their communities, and prioritize their health and wellness. I truly believe that to be a part of Rum Shakers is to be a part of the “beyond” that our industry needs and on which our Foundation stands.”

L – R: David Leon Jr., Gregory Fleming II, Rachel Lennox, Xander Contreras, Theresa Bell, Kapri Robinson, Marco Montaguano, Alex Rojas (Photo Credit @free_re_fells)

We caught up with the Rum Shakers Champions to ask about their experience throughout the program and in Puerto Rico.

Washington DC – Kapri Robinson & Gregory Fleming II

Kapri – Having the time to meet up with my industry friends to have dance class was so much fun! It made me want to keep being more active and continue a hobby in my passion for dance! I’m proud to be a Rum Shaker because dance is very important to my being – releasing the negative and recharging the positive. This is a great creative way to get Bartenders active and away from the standard movements we are used to in bartending.

Gregory – I’m most proud of being a Rum Shaker Champion because it shows that you can love your career and have a complete blast while doing it! I will cherish this journey and the people that I met forever. Rum Shakers and the BACARDÍ team really express the importance of bringing forward your true self.  

Chicago – David Leon Jr & Marco Montaguano

David – I am forever grateful to BACARDÍ for creating the Rum Shakers program and for helping us move & groove to be creative with our bodies while expressing our artistic side through dance!  It was great to the pride Bacardí has in showing us the island of Puerto Rico, the culture, music, food, dance and, of course, being a rum of Puerto Rico.  

Marco – I am living proof that the bar industry needs more programs like Rum Shakers! I was given the opportunity to achieve my goal to dance with amazing bar industry people in Chicago and in Puerto Rico. Learning about dance and Puerto Rican culture will be memories I will keep forever.

Atlanta Rum Shakers – Theresa Bell & Xander Contreras

Theresa – Rum Shakers is an amazing platform. No matter your status, your job, or your race, dance bridges that gap and brings everyone together. I am most proud because I got to showcase my talent that isn’t seen behind the bar and I am able to share that ability with others. I will never again be afraid to step out of my comfort zone and be creative.

Xander – I’m most proud to be part of the Rum Shakers because each one of us knows how to be genuine, compassionate, welcoming, warm, creative, friendly and knows how to bust a move! Bonding with everyone was so easy and effortless, it was as if we’ve been friends for years transitioning from strangers to lifelong friends and family. 

San Diego Rum Shakers – Alex Rojas & Rachel Lennox

Alex – The people I’ve met as part of the Rum Shakers experience is the most important thing that I will take with me. Rum Shakers give us the opportunity to showcase another aspect of our industry outside of alcohol – performance and dance! We are such a diverse group, so coming together, moving our bodies, expressing our individuality, and connecting through dance is an amazing experience.

Rachel – I’m proud to be a Rum Shaker because of the amazing Bartenders who are involved. Everyone is extremely diverse, talented and are change makers, willing to have challenging conversations to improve the industry. This program inspires us to focus on work / life balance to make time for our bodies and our passions outside the bar.

Final words from Tara Fougner (CEO & Co-Founder of Thirsty) – As someone who has experienced the evolution of Rum Shakers from day one with auditions in Miami through the 2022 Champions last dance in Puerto Rico, I could not be prouder to be part of this remarkable program. Rum Shakers is a program that has created a positive path towards equity in the industry. It provides equal opportunity for all different kinds of bartenders from various categories of bars, not only craft cocktail bartenders. Rum Shakers encourages participation from diverse intersections of identity with varied access to bar education and mentorship; inviting all Bartenders to come as you are, do what moves you, and hit the dance floor for a once in a lifetime opportunity to foster personal and professional growth and to grow & strengthen ties within our bar community.

CLICK HERE for a little taste of the Rum Shakers Champions’ experience in Puerto Rico with BACARDÍ and Tales of the Cocktail.

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