Bacardi’s Genesis in Cuban Liberation
Rum and revolution have an awesome history, which is why Tom Gjelton’s Bacardi and the Long Fight For Cuba is such a good read. Use it as a travel guide; I would. Because if you follow the rum, you’ll find the fun. Trust me on this. Years ago I found myself pinballing around post-revolution Nicaragua (don’t ask). Fortified with several bottles of Flor de Cano, my friend and I boarded a bullet-ridden puddle jumper and headed for Corn Island, a Nicaraguan outpost in the Caribbean Sea. The island was founded and owned by privateer Captain Henry Morgan (the rum brand namesake) and was teeming with friendly native girls, modern-day pirates called Moskitos, and beach-roving pushers slinging eightballs for $5. Amazing history all locked into one tiny little island. Fun? You bet. Well, Gjelton’s is a different story — it’s Cuba — but the same theory applies.
The book, out this week, follows Cuba’s fight for Independence from Spain and the Bacardi family’s long history as activists, and it offers an alternative glimpse to pre-revolutionary Cuba and Fidel Castro’s 50-year reign. But social, political, and economic histories aside, at heart of the story is Facundo Barcardi’s gamble on rum. Since Cuba was a sugar-producing island, Barcardi realized he could use the molasses byproduct to distill and export rum. The rest is history. So, the next time you drink Bacardi, make it a Cube Libre.