It’s been 34 years since my last piña colada. It’s no coincidence that it’s also been exactly 34 years since I visited Puerto Rico, which I vaguely remember as a tropical backdrop created solely for drinking piña coladas. So when an annual report assignment took me back to San Juan last week, I was excited and curious to see if I would remember much after sooo much time and sooo many piña coladas on the first trip.
I’m happy to report that both the island and the piña coladas remain as sweet and intoxicating as I (sorta kinda) remember.
But this trip was about work not play – with looming deadlines we sadly nixed our initial plans of hopping a seaplane to the neighboring Virgin Islands - we were lucky to squeeze in a quick visit to the Bacardi Rum distillery in San Juan one day after shooting aerials. On this trip I drank my one and only piña colada on our last night, which happened to be my birthday. It looked and tasted like a coconut flavored milk shake – rich and sweet. I think it makes a better dessert than a cocktail.
Mashed fried plaintains form the basis of the Puerto Rican classic dish, Mofongo. The mofongo is paired with either a spicy meat, pork or in this case shrimp filling. Delicious!
On our tour of the Bacardi facilities we learned more than we ever wanted to know about the history of the Bacardi family - lots more than we ever wanted to know. But the non-stop promotional propaganda was made palatable by the free rum they wisely doled out at the beginning as well as the end of the tour. The worst part? It’s been a week and I still can’t get this song out of my head.
The original rum distillery was in a converted stable that was inhabited by a colony of bats, which for some unexplained reason was taken as a sign of family unity by the Bacardis and adopted as their logo.
The correct pronunciation is with the accent on the third syllable – BacarDI.
Bacardi hype claims it is the number one selling alcoholic spirit in the world. But a quick webcheck indicates Bacardi ranks number 4. What – you expected honesty from the folks who failed to mention that the Bacardi company also owns Grey Goose vodka, Dewar's scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Eristoff vodka, Martini & Rossi vermouth, Cazadores tequila, and the U.S. version of Havana Club?
This one distillery in San Juan cranks out over 100,000 gallons of rum EACH DAY. There are also distilleries in the US and The Bahamas. Who’s drinking all that rum?
Inside the Bacardi theater - where the Bacardi video taught us exciting facts about Bacardi rum production such as why Bacardi rum is healthy for you and Mrs. Bacardi’s shoe size (?) The ceiling of the theater was a replica of the constellations exactly as they appeared to Mr. Bacardi the night when the first bottle of Bacardi rum rolled off the bottling line. I tried to use the word Bacardi in this paragraph as often as we heard it on the Bacardi tour, but have failed by half.
You too can learn more about the Bacardis than you know about your own family at the Bacardi website.
Hey Bartender -Did you know this?
A Cuba libre is made with rum, coke and a wedge of lime perched on the edge of the glass. The drink was first concocted in Cuba where it is traditionally imbibed whilst toasting Cuban independence. Some say the drink is called "a little lie" or "mentirita" by Cubans because Cuba is not actually free.
A rum and Coca-cola, a mojito and a generous portion of an aged rum served straight up. These were my pre-tour free drinks. Chris got the same. And then there were the AFTER tour free drinks…