There’s a new boss in town – BACARDÍ USA. And with their USA headquarters located in Coral Gables, these rum ride or dies are running the show and taking the Magic City by storm, with three new campaigns rebranding BACARDÍ rum as Miami’s most vibrant spirit. Between a new collaboration with FACUNDO Rum Collection and Latin artist Damian Aquiles, two new BACARDÍ premium rums that launched this spring, and the HAVANA CLUB Rum “Forever Cuban” campaign, BACARDÍ is planning to seize South Miami streets. So we sat down with Ned Duggan, VP of BACARDÍ, to get the scoop on all things BACARDÍ and their upcoming plans for this potent Miami potion.
What is it about Miami that mixes so well with the BACARDÍ brand?
Ned Duggan: BACARDÍ is a brand with deep roots in the Caribbean – both in Cuba and Puerto Rico. While the Caribbean is our home, we consider Miami our backyard. Miami is a mash-up of Latin and American cultures - it’s a city filled with the same energy, diversity and spirit that embodies the BACARDÍ brand. Many people don’t know that BACARDÍ is still a family-owned brand and company, and many members of the Bacardi family live throughout the city. Our U.S. headquarters is also based here in Coral Gables, and we’ve been committed to enhancing our local Miami community and culture for decades.
BACARDÍ recently took over Ball & Chain, a Little Havana icon and cultural landmark, to bring the HAVANA CLUB story centerstage with an immersive theatrical performance titled “Amparo.” What was this performance all about?
ND: In November 2017, we introduced the Forever Cuban campaign to assert our rightful place as the original HAVANA CLUB rum and affirm that though our rum is no longer produced in Cuba, we are, and will forever be, Cuban. We wanted to boldly tell the story of the real HAVANA CLUB and demonstrate how the brand became an icon of empowerment and survival, which is why we created Amparo to bring our Forever Cuban campaign to life. Given HAVANA CLUB rum’s deep history, we felt that the best way for anyone to truly understand our past was to experience it firsthand.
Amparo is an emotional, immersive theatrical performance that tells the story of the Arechabala family – the original creators of HAVANA CLUB rum. The goal here was much bigger than entertainment, and it had everything to do with paying homage to a forgotten past and reclaiming our Cuban heritage. In 1960, the Cuban regime unrightfully confiscated all of the Arechabala family’s assets including their distillery and the HAVANA CLUB trademark, and later forcefully exiled them from Cuba – but they could not steal the recipe or the expertise it took to produce HAVANA CLUB. In 1994, Ramon Arechabala passed the recipe to the Bacardi family – who share a similar story of Cuban heritage and exile – so that they could preserve the legacy and allow the brand to live on. To this day, Pernod Ricard – a French company – continues to partner with the Cuban dictatorship to produce rum under a stolen name, which is why it is extremely important for us to share the true story behind HAVANA CLUB rum. Amparo has been a very compelling way to tell our story.
This is a story that likely hits close to home for many Cuban exile families in Miami. Is that why you decided to launch the campaign here?
ND: Absolutely. This story has really resonated with our audience on many levels. Combining education and entertainment, Amparo is a story of industry and innovation, tragedy and betrayal, redemption and reclamation that many Cuban exiles have faced. The emotionally gripping scenes in Amparo unveiled not only the injustices that the Cuban regime committed against the Arechabala family, but also the family’s long legacy. A legacy that the Cuban government tried to erase. Amparo is a story that so many exiles can relate to, and, through it, HAVANA CLUB rum sends a powerful message to all exiles, that regardless of where they live, they remain a part of their homeland. The real HAVANA CLUB rum is now produced in Puerto Rico – its authenticity is maintained by the same recipe, great-taste, craftsmanship, technique and passion since the brand was crafted in 1934.
Speaking of Cuba, BACARDÍ’s FACUNDO Rum Collection just collaborated with Cuban artist Damian Aquiles to design luxury bar trays for the brand. Tell us about it.
ND: FACUNDO is the luxury rum collection sourced from the Bacardi family’s private reserves, and we wanted to do something special to celebrate the exciting and diverse world of Latin American culture that is inherent to the brand’s origin. We worked with Damian to create and unveil ten unique luxury bar trays – each one is a work of art. Made of salvaged and repurposed Cuban-sourced sheet metal, then doused in gasoline and fired up - no two trays are the same.
Can you tell our Ocean Drive readers why you chose to partner with Damian and mix rum with art?
ND: From the incredible liquid to the exquisite bottles inspired by the brand’s Cuban heritage, FACUNDO has always made it its mission to elevate rum to an art form. Damian was the perfect partner for this exclusive collection – each of the trays he created are one-of-a-kind works of art, just as each of the rums within the FACUNDO collection is a masterpiece of its kind, born of 150-years of expertise in the art of rum-making, but reinterpreted in a contemporary way.
BACARDÍ’s latest initiative is the launch of a new premium rum line. what’s new that Miami locals can now find behind the bar?
ND: As part of our new premium portfolio, we introduced BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro and BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Diez, which joined the existing BACARDÍ Reserva Limitada offering, along with the redesign and repackaging of the private family blend BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho in April.
Añejo Cuatro is barrel-aged for a minimum of four years under the Caribbean sun. It has a rich golden color with notes of vanilla, toasted oak and sometimes hints of honey – and it’s great for elevated cocktails. You will start to see BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro cocktails in bars across Miami, including Beaker and Gray, Broken Shaker and Stubborn Seed. Gran Reserva Diez is our master blender’s reserve barrel-aged for a minimum of ten years, with bright notes of banana, pear and tropical melon balanced with caramelized vanilla and oak. When you pick up a bottle of Gran Reserva Diez, we suggest enjoying it neat or on the rocks.
Each of the rums in the premium portfolio provide a new way to enjoy BACARDÍ and are available to enjoy nationwide in the U.S.
Which is your favorite?
ND: I love all the rums within the collection, but what I drink varies from day to day. I go for Añejo Cuatro when I want a refreshing cocktail after a long day in the sun. I love a BACARDÍ Cuatro Mismo because it’s a simple cocktail made with Añejo Cuatro, club soda and a squeeze of fresh lime. Reserva Ocho works beautifully in an Ocho Old Fashioned classic cocktail – this is my go-to cocktail when I’m out to dinner in Miami. Gran Reserva Diez is best enjoyed on its own, either sipped neat or with an ice cube or two – I usually enjoy Diez when I get together with friends and entertain at home.
Do you have any other future plans for the brand as of now?
ND: This is going to be a big year for BACARDÍ. We’re looking forward to continuing to push our new premium portfolio – it’s going to be a major priority. Summer is also right around the corner, which if last year was any indication, is going to be big for the brand. We can’t share too much right now, but keep an eye out because it’s going to be exciting!
With so many exciting initiatives for BACARDÍ in Miami and globally, what is your favorite local spot for a celebratory toast?
ND: I live up north in the Mimo Historic District, so my local is The Anderson. I also like Beaker and Gray and try to spend my Sunday’s at Wynwood Yard when the weather is nice.
Photography by: PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICOLE RODRIGUEZ