Mark Wyatt AKA Dr Rum at the Great Australian Bites Festival Airlie Beach.
Mark Wyatt AKA Dr Rum at the Great Australian Bites Festival Airlie Beach. Tamera Francis

How one man used a Maccas cup to build a mojito empire

DOCTOR Rum, aka Mark Wyatt, knows his rum after a decade in the cocktail-making business.

Ten years ago the Rum Bar started as a little hole-in-the-wall fish cafe at the Airlie Beach Plaza shopping centre.

Fast-forward 10 years, the extension of Airlie Beach's much loved Fish D'vine seafood restaurant now has one of the biggest rum collections in the southern hemisphere; boasting 560 varieties.

"We started off with nine bottles and the collection just grew, it started from humble beginnings and it's just spiralled out of control really," Mr Wyatt said.

Bundaberg rum is a Queensland icon, but Mr Wyatt isn't a fan and prefers Caribbean rum. "It's not personally to my taste, Caribbean rum has moved along a lot more quickly and in the right direction, I've been upsetting people about it for years," he said.

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The bar's signature drink is the mojito, which has a pretty amazing back story that started with Mr Wyatt growing tired with cooking breakfast at the original fish cafe.

"It was a bit of an accident, we used to do breakfast and I used to whinge like crap about it. My business partner said if I could double bar sales we'll knock breakfast on the head."

Mr Wyatt immediately ran down to the local bottle shop to buy a few bottles of rum, then to McDonald's where he acquired a paper cup.

 

The original and the modified tools used to make Dr Rum's famous mojitos.
The original and the modified tools used to make Dr Rum's famous mojitos. Tamera Francis

A Corona bottle doubled as a lime muddler, teamed with fresh lime, mint, a dash of sugar syrup; was then shaken with a water glass popped on the 'golden arch's' paper cup and shaken after that breakfast at the cafe was history.

Since then, what was once a simple fish cafe with no bar staff evolved into the Rum Bar that now employs four bar staff on at any one time and has formed his own identity.

"I've made over half a million mojitos in the last decade, just me personally," Mr Wyatt said.

One thing that will never change is the recipe for the mojito that started it all, except for the equipment used to make the concoction.

Mr Wyatt will try to take a step back from the business, much like his business partner Kev Collins announced he was doing early on in the year, but assures not a great deal will change.

"I'll be making a few less mojitos,but still be heavily involved, I can't step back from the rum," Mr Wyatt said.


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