Being practically bottle-fed on Zeppelin and Hendrix, it’s safe to say that I love rock and roll. So when I was invited to attend a media-only event at the Hard Rock Café in Waikiki to sample a new brand of Maui-made rum created by Sammy Hagar – the legendary front man of Van Halen – I was ecstatic. As the song goes, “Everybody! Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots!” and some Mai Tai’s, maybe?

When my friend Jason and I walked into the Hard Rock, we were immediately greeted by a table full of shots. The friendly staff encouraged us to sample Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum in its pure, 80 proof state. So we cheers-ed and knocked it back. It was delicious. I’m no rum expert, but I felt as if you could taste the sweetness of the sugarcane, the soil it came from, the sun and rain that nourished it and the loving hands that distilled it.

We had a seat and were immediately approached by a waiter with a tray of Mai Tai’s. Then another with daiquiris. Then another with shots. All packed with this sweet, nectar of the rock ‘n roll gods. I couldn’t refuse and was “sipping” these concoctions down faster than a lady is proud to admit. My head was swimming, and I was feeling good. Chatty even.

With this douse of liquid courage and all nervousness melted away, I marched up to Sammy Hagar and said, “Hello, nice to meet you. I’m a big fan, and your rum is amazing.” Great entrance, right?

It would have been, but it wasn’t Sammy Hagar. It was Mark Nigbur, the distiller genius behind Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum and Sammy Hagar’s long lost twin (not really, but they really do look alike!). After the initial embarrassment, we started talking about the rum. Every step of the process was local, from the sugar cane to the distillation. I was surprised to learn that it was just him and his son that carry out the entire distillation process. My friend Jason and I about to take shots with Mark Nigbur (left) and Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum president, Steve Kauffman (right). Bottom’s up!

“We make about 100 cases a day,” he said. “Everything is bottled by hand.”

After an awesome conversation with Mark, I got up the courage to finally approach Sammy. I grabbed Jason, a few more shots and marched up to the Red Rocker.

“Hi! Would you like to take a shot with us?” I asked him.

The three of us knocked back our glasses and smacked our lips. I then blurted out the first thing that came to my mind, “If Blackbeard were alive, what would he say about this rum?”

Sammy looked at me very seriously for a moment, and then in a big belly laugh yelled, “He’d say it was a girly drink!!”(Left) This is what Sammy looks like before a few shots. (Right) And after a few shots, everyone’s feeling good!

Girly drink or not, this is a rum that would give anyone some hair on their chest. Staggering out of the Hard Rock Café that afternoon, I was in awe of how lucky I was to have this experience. To meet these rock stars – one in the music world, the other in the distilling world – who were really just good-hearted, down-to-earth people doing what they loved.

SAMMY’S BEACH BAR RUM • Produced By Haliimaile Distilling Co, Makawao, Hawaii • Enjoy Responsibly • /

*EDITOR’S NOTE: The Hawaii Vacations Blog encourages responsible alcohol consumption for those 21 years and older. We do not condone driving under the influence. Serena and her friend took a cab home from the media event.


  1. Wow, Serena, you sure visited Hard Rock at just the right time & day! Sounds like my kine of fun! I will have to try Sammys Beach Bar Rum from Maui…I make Coquito, which is a Puerto Rican Egg Nog, and I use rum. So my next batch will be with Sammy’s Rum. Thanks for the fun posting!

  2. awesome post divina! why you weren’t in any of my creative writing classes i don’t know but you sure script like a pro! love the blackbeard blurt 😉

  3. I think the editor was editing under the influence… “We do not condone *drinking* under the influence. Serena and her friend took a cab home from the media event.” 🙂

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