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Rum & Coke, the Fiji way

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There was a time in the not too distant past when Rum & Coke was one of the more popular beverage requests at the local country club bar. There was even a song called "Rum and Coca-Cola," made famous by a female singing group, The Andrews Sisters. Back in those days hardly anyone actually drank rum by itself, either "neat" or "on the rocks." In even earlier times rum was offered as a part of the daily ration on sailing ships and that probably didn't do much for its reputation as a fine liquor.

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Take a step into present day Fiji and you may discover what some refer to as "Liquid Gold." The reason for mentioning the Rum and Coke connection is very pertinent for Fiji Rum for the simple reason that in 2012, Coca Cola of Australia purchased the distillery on Denarau Island of Fiji that produces Fiji's award winning rums.

If you have been to South Florida and driven through the miles of sugar cane fields between Miami and the West Coast cities of the state you will know a little about sugar cane. Most of the cane in South Florida is used to produce a large amount of the sugar consumed in the United States. Rum afficionados would likely argue that the Fiji cane fields are put to better use in generating the golden molasses used to produce Fiji Rum.

The distillery is situated in Lautoka on the Western side of Viti Levu, but you don't need to go there to sample the rum. The distillery has undergone a transformation and now produces a full dozen distinctly individual rums for your enjoyment and, if you're staying at a Denarau Island resort you may need only to walk across the street and up a short path to reach the tasting room and retail shop. The Starwood hotel group not only runs the resorts but also the Fiji Rum shop where you can sample the delightful variety of rums. If you're lucky you might even pass a rugby game on the field beside the shops - a lot more fun than American football - real tackling and NO pads!

You might want to try the White Chocolate Rum Liqueur. the 5 year old Dark Rum blend or maybe the 5 year old Spiced Rum. You will also be offered a year old White Rum, a 2 year old Bounty Vanilla Spiced Rum and, of course, a 2 year old Coconut Rum Liqueur. Banana and Cinnamon, Banana and Coffee Rums will get your attention and you can look forward to a 12 year old Single Barrel Rum as well as other exotic blends that develop over the upcoming years.

If you are a first time Rum taster, the Golden Honey Rum may be a good place to start. Fiji Rum Company has been winning a number of awards and 2014 has been a good year for them. At the United Kingdom 2014 Rum Masters, their Bounty Spiced Rum won the Master Award - topping Australia's number one Premium Spiced Sailor Jerry Rum.

If you stay at the Starwood Sheraton Denarau you can walk to the shop at the Denarau Golf and Racquet Club to find the rum - open 1 pm to 9 pm. daily. If cruising the islands of Mamanuca and Yasawa you'll want to spend a day or two on Denarau either before or after your cruise to get a taste of the islands urban life.

Cruising aboard the Fiji Princess will take you to the outlying villages and provide a chance to see another side of Fiji that cannot be found in the cities. With Blue Lagoon Cruises you can have 3, 4 or even 7 days living with a delightful all-Fijian crew aboard a small, boutique ship that caters to an adventurous group of guests who are seeking the opportunity to get more involved with Fiji culture and lifestyle.

You will anchor offshore from several tropical islands where you can swim, fish, snorkel, scuba, kayak or just walk the beaches or lie in the sun. You may join in a hike across an island, visit a local village, meet a group of school children or simply find a hammock and sway in the island breezes.

Fiji Airways can get you to Nadi, Fiji on a nonstop flight directly from Los Angeles. Fiji Airways, Fiji’s national airline, has been connecting the world with the South Pacific for 60 years, and has been awarded “Best Airline in the South Pacific” by readers of Global Traveler Magazine in 2013. Whether traveling in Business Class or Economy, the natural warmth of the cabin crew will ensure the journey to the destination begins with a smile. Fiji Airways flies the new A330 between Fiji (Nadi) and North America (Los Angeles.) Flights include checked baggage, complimentary in-flight entertainment and a range of meals and beverages. If flying to Australia or New Zealand a Fiji stopover is allowed. For more information, visit www.fijiairways.com or call 1-800-227-4446. As with most airlines, if you're over 6' tall I highly recommend that you fly business class if possible - it is a long flight, but really worth it to get to beautiful Fiji.

Have a great time in Fiji, look for more on Fiji in OffBeat Travel and . . . Keep on Traveling!

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