Things are being shaken up at this year’s Seven Fathoms Cayman Rum Challenge at the 29th annual Taste of Cayman Food & Drink Festival. International competitors are on their way.

Three U.S. mixologists who each won preliminary rounds in New York, Chicago and Miami will compete against some of Cayman’s finest in the challenge at Taste of Cayman on Jan. 28 at the Festival Green, Camana Bay.

The winner will be crowned Seven Fathoms Mixologist of the Year.

The international rounds of the mixology competition, hosted by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism in partnership with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, Cayman Spirits, Cayman Airways and Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, provided guests with a taste of Caymanian culture and an insight into the Cayman Islands’ vibrant restaurant and bar scene.

This year marks the first time international contestants have been invited for the mixology contest.

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“As one of the aims of Taste of Cayman is to help promote the wide variety of CITA member restaurants and bars, we are so excited to welcome these three talented mixologists to Cayman, not only to compete, but to also experience our unique Caymanian offerings and culture,” says Tiffany Dixon-Ebanks, executive director of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association. “We are sure Cayman’s own mixologists will rise to the occasion to battle it out in what promises to be a very exciting and entertaining competition.”

International competitors

The three international participants who will compete against local mixologists are Sabrina Kudic, Benny Hernandez and Selma Slabiak, who won in Chicago, Miami and New York preliminaries, respectively.

Hernandez, mixologist for Area 31 at the Kimpton EPIC Hotel in Miami, earned his place with his “East End Swanky.” Kudic of Bad Hunter, Chicago, impressed judges with her “Overnight” concoction featuring Seven Fathoms Rum. Slabiak, winner of the 2016 Rum & Rhythm Battle held in New York, claimed her place at the festival with her “Loa Bird” cocktail.

Taste of Cayman

The Taste of Cayman Food & Drink Festival is the Tourism Association’s biggest fundraiser. It began in the late ‘80s when a small number of restaurants from the Cayman Islands Restaurant Association met in a field to compete in a Chili Cook-Off. The event has grown to attract thousands, with more than 45 restaurants, bars and vendors participating.

There are some new features this year, including a VIP area.

For more information, contact [email protected] or call 623-6700. Tickets can be bought at General admission tickets are $40 in advance; $50 at the gate; kids ages 5-13 are $20; and VIP tickets are $150, which includes entry to the VIP hospitality lounge, 25 food and drink tickets, one experience voucher, welcome drinks and canapes, express entry and a private cash bar.

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