Saturday, June 22, 2024

Havana Club

During my travels to Cuba, I have enjoyed the Havana Club rum particularly in a mojito. During my first trip there I would have so many mojitos that I didn’t do very well on the photo tour portion. I literally had to go back the second time to get better photos. I now have a rule to only drink mojitos in Cuba. Many of my friends loved the aged versions of the dark rum.

The mojito originated in Havana and has routinely been presented as a favorite drink of author Ernest Hemingway. It has also often been said that Hemingway made the bar called La Bodeguita de Medio famous when he became one of its regulars and wrote “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita” on a wall of the bar. Traditionally, a mojito is a cocktail that consists of five ingredients: white rum, sugar (traditionally sugar cane juice), lime juice, soda water, and mint.

As I was researching Havana Club rum this week, I came upon the family story, which I found very interesting below.

The Arechabala Family started their rum-making business in 1878 in Cuba and first registered the original HAVANA CLUB trademark in 1934. It wasn’t long before HAVANA CLUB Rum became a beloved and iconic Cuban brand – becoming a favorite amongst locals as well as American and European tourists.

Then everything changed. On January 1st, 1960, at gunpoint, the Cuban regime unrightfully seized the company’s assets without compensation. The Arechabala family lost everything and was forced to flee the homeland they loved, with a scant few of their remaining possessions – the precious HAVANA CLUB recipe being one of them. Meanwhile, the Cuban government started to sell their stolen version of HAVANA CLUB, and continues to do so to this day.

It wasn’t until 1995, More than three decades after the revolution, Ramon Arechabala made a deal with Juan Prado of Bacardi to produce the original-recipe Havana Club in Puerto Rico. Bacardi acquired the HAVANA CLUB brand and began producing rum based on the original HAVANA CLUB recipe and selling it in the one country that didn’t recognize the Cuban government’s 1960 illegal expropriation, the United States. HAVANA CLUB Rum has managed to hold onto its rich Cuban culture.

The family story has been adapted into “The Amparo Experience,” an immersive theater production written by Vanessa Garcia and staged by Victoria Collado last year showed Miami audiences the history of the family that created and distilled Havana Club Rum in Cuba.

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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