Regular Rum Connection contributor, June Coleman, finds herself sampling mojitos at the legendary TAP TAP Restaurant in Miami’s South Beach.
TAP TAP Mojitos
by June Coleman
On day-two of the Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami, as others from the Rum Connection crew participated in a rum Tasting Competition, I meandered my way down Collins Avenue. As the Miami heat took its toll, I decided to partake in a little tasting of my own at the TAP TAP, a restaurant known for their award-winning Mojitos. Located at 819 5th Street in a less “touristy” side of South Beach, this little Haitian bar offered a getaway from the mid-day heat and an opportunity to quench my thirst for well-made rum drinks.
My spirit peaked as I stepped onto the front porch of this originally designed Haitian “house” and heard the melodic sounds of Caribbean music piping from the surrounding speakers. The TAP TAP has been in business for 16 years and is owned by Gary Sanon-Jules, who is of Haitian descent. Gary met me and graciously gave me a guided tour of his laid-back restaurant. Nearly every square inch of the walls and ceiling are covered in traditional “conversational art” murals. An extended hallway is decorated with artsy T-shirts, artifacts, and masks. The homey setting is divided into several individual rooms with hand-painted chairs and wooden dining tables. Art and color are everywhere. After sunset, a back room transforms into a dancehall where traditional music is performed by their live house band.
Back at the bar, Gary and I continued our chat about rum. They keep it simple here and offer only three kinds; Barbancourt 4, 8 and 15. They also offer a nice selection of wine, beer, and soursop juice. As the conversation turned to mojitos, he tells me that the TAP TAP won 1st place in a mojito competition held at the Delano Hotel-Miami Beach in 2009.
Intrigued and thirsty, I order the Haitian Mojito made with Barbancourt 15. Victoria, one of the TAP TAP’s veteran bartenders muddles a bunch of untorn mint leaves and raw sugar in a wooden bowl and adds it to a cocktail shaker. She pours in a measure of their freshly-made lime juice/soda/white sugar mixture, and then a generous amount of rhum. After a series of light shakes, it is strained into a charming hand-painted glass, topped with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint. I took my first sip and immediately understood why the TAP TAP has such a great reputation. Their mojito is light, refreshing and definitely the perfect way to cool off from the mid-afternoon Miami sun.
There are many great mojitos out there, but the TAP TAP combines quality ingredients and bar know-how with a friendly staff and groovy atmosphere. All that makes for a VERY tasty beverage!! Thanks Gary, see you next time!