The most glamorous stage of the tour is certainly
at the art déco bar that embodies the very image of the Bacardi
Bar in Havana, Cuba. The original bar experienced its heyday during
American Prohibition, when artists and party goers would hop over
to Cuba to sip daiquiris to their hearts’ content. Sipping many
a daiquiri at the Floridita bar in Havana, Ernest Hemingway is commonly
associated with the cocktail—though the refreshing elixir was actually
made before the great literary figure brought it to fame. A gentleman
named Jennings Cox first assembled it in the late nineteenth century
at the village of Daiquiri, close to Santiago, and it soon went
onto be the chic sip of bars all over Havana.
this day, they still use the same
yeast strain that was used in 1862, giving Bacardi its distinctive
taste and aroma
At the Casa Bacardi art déco bar, you will
also learn about other cocktails that were born out the glitzy Havana
cocktail era, such as the Cuba libre and the mojito. Simply a rum
and coke, the Cuba libre isn’t the most inspiring drink; the mojito,
however, is one of the most refreshing libations, water aside. It
is a wonderful mix of rum, sugar, fresh lime juice, mint and (optional)
soda water. It has made quite a comeback in modern-day mixology
and rightly so because it is a great drink.
The most valuable information gleaned from our visit
lies in the very making of Bacardi rum. To this day, they still use
the same yeast strain that was used in 1862, giving Bacardi its distinctive
taste and aroma. We also discovered, during a rum tasting, that Bacardi
has a house style that is light and refreshing. This character makes
their rum so ideal for mixing and a few of the older rums are good
for the snifter, too.
Once you have learnt all about rum, you might
want to see how it fares outside the Casa Bacardi and make your
way to Old San Juan for a taste of some thirst-quenching mojitos
at the Parrot Club. This Nuevo Latin bistro serves up tasty dishes
in a colourful atmosphere and has a range of rum-based elixirs.
Once satiated, you should take a stroll down the
cobbled streets of Old San Juan. Admittedly, it is a small area but
it preserves much of Puerto Rico’s history. The Castillo de San Felipe
del Morro, or ‘El Morro’ fortress, is a stunning sight on the bay
that cannot be missed.
This part of San Juan also offers one of Puerto
Rico’s luxury hotels, Hotel El Convento. The beautiful old-world
Spanish hotel was originally a convent back in 1651 through to 1903.
Other historical landmarks to check here would be the San Juan Cathedral
and the La Princesa, which once served as a prison but now houses
the Puerto Rico tourism headquarters.
We spent one balmy evening sipping rum libations
at the Water Club, a boutique hotel on the beach. Water is the theme
and you will find it in motion throughout the entire hotel. We quenched
our thirst at their appropriately named rooftop bar, Wet. If you
fancy a hip residential stay, we suggest you check into one of their
all-white, minimalist and serene rooms, overlooking the ocean.
Rum libations aside, Puerto Rico makes for an
enjoyable stop when island hopping across the Caribbean. The island
is relaxed, the folks are friendly, the food is hearty and the hot,
humid air smells of the sea, these things conspire to make a thirsty
tourist and very content. •
Pameladevi Govinda is travel correspondent