It’s Not Rum – It’s Bacardi
As a budget traveler, I’m always looking to make the most out of a destination’s freebies. So when I found out that Casa Bacardi in Cataño offers free tours for visitors, despite the fact that I’m not a big drinker, I was up for making the 30-minute drive there from where we were staying near the heart of Old San Juan.
Although there was a bit of traffic, the drive there was easy breezy which was a relief considering that we ran into some previous hurdles while driving in San Juan mainly due to insufficiently marked street and freeway signs – or perhaps it was our struggling Spanish literacy. However, we did manage to pass the entrance to Casa Bacardi although I’m not sure how we could’ve missed the signs…
After we parked, we made our way to a unique outdoor bar where we were each provided with two free samples of Bacardi mixed with our choice of juice or soda. We also had the option of buying a mojito and certain other cocktails for $10 a pop. No thank you! As I said before, I prefer the freebies. For my first sample, I ordered Bacardi and passion fruit juice.
For my second sample, I asked the bartender, “May I have rum and pineapple juice?”
“It’s not rum – it’s Bacardi,” he replied.
Jave ordered another Bacardi and Sprite, and we meandered around the bar while waiting for the shuttle to come and take us to the interactive museum for a tour.
Finally, the shuttle came and off we went…
Once inside, we were shown a short film about Bacardi’s history. The company was founded by Facundo Bacardi Massó who was a wine merchant from the Catalonia region in Spain. He immigrated to Cuba in 1830 where he figured out how to refine rum by filtering it through charcoal to remove impurities followed by an aging process in white oak barrels. The end result was the world’s first clear rum. He and his brother soon bought a distillery where fruit bats lived in the building’s rafters – thus inspiring the Bacardi brand’s logo.
As the brand grew, the Bacardi family expanded their territory and opened a distillery in Puerto Rico in 1936. Rum produced in Puerto Rico was able to be sold tax free in the U.S. during the post-Prohibition era. Today, Bacardi isn’t sold in Cuba as the country’s main brand is now Havana Club which was nationalized during the Cuban Revolution.
Following the film, a guide talked to us about the distillation process and we were also given a cocktail-making demo where we learned about the famous Cuba Libre, better known as Coke and rum – ahem, I mean Coke and Bacardi Gold.
After the tour, we were dropped back off at the outdoor bar where we were free to order more drinks or to buy food and gifts from the snack bar and gift shop nearby.
Casa Bacardi was definitely a worthwhile excursion during our trip to San Juan!
For info about Casa Bacardi’s visiting hours visit http://casabacardi.org/.