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A rum-runner in the making?

Woodbury native Phil Thompson submitted a video of him making a "Tommy Sunrise" for his submission into Tommy Bahama's first-ever "rumologist" competition.

Woodbury native Phil Thompson is best known for being a pianist and composer, but he is hoping to add another title to his repertoire -- "rumologist."

Thompson is one of 10 finalists in Tommy Bahama rum's search for its first-ever "rumologist."

The winning rumologist would be the product's spokesperson for a year. The winner will travel the globe talking about rum, making cocktails and pairing it with different meal selections at restaurant locations.

"They pick one person to be their rum master," the 2003 Woodbury High School graduate said, "and be the face of their brand. I'm excited about enhancing people's experiences with rum."

Additionally the rumologist will receive a newly furnished wardrobe of Tommy Bahama beachwear and $50,000 cash.

Thompson is the only Minnesotan to advance.

"I am pretty blown away," he said. "I hope to keep going down this pipeline, but who knows with these contests."

For the competition, Thompson submitted a video of himself making a "Tommy Sunrise," which is made with rum, triple sec, orange juice, pineapple, amaretto and grenadine. During the video Thompson also talks about his love of rum.

"I wanted to put a spin on a normal cocktail," Thompson said. "It was really fun coming up with a few different recipes."

In his submission profile, Thompson states: "I have a passion for bartending and the 'Tommy Bahama lifestyle,'" he said. "I definitely think rum is the most delicious and most versatile liquor bartenders can work with."

The videos were then narrowed down to 20. The top 20 videos were voted on by the public and narrowed to 10.

Contest 'seemed like a good fit'

Thompson said he chose to enter the "rumologist" contest because it sounded like a great opportunity.

Thompson's first job in high school was being a "host" at Damon's Grill in Oakdale, which is when his spark for hospitality ignited.

Over the years Thompson has worked at Blarney's in Minneapolis, Madden's Resort in Brainerd, Minn., and Hotel Ivy in Minneapolis. Currently Thompson works at Whisper Lounge in Hollywood, Calif.

"I've always had a love of hospitality," he said.

Additionally, Thompson said he does enjoy a good rum drink and the "Tommy Bahama way of life."

"Being a 'rumologist' seemed like a really good fit," he said. "It pairs my experience and my passion."

For the next round of competition, Thompson has to create another video. From there Tommy Bahama picks its top five videos and the public again votes on the winner. The top five will be announced Sept. 26.

Thompson said he is tossing around the idea of creating an entire tropical meal centered around rum.

"I'm thinking about how to incorporate rum more into an entire meal," he said. "When ordering a drink, rum is almost always my first choice."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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