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CocktailsThe REAL story behind Havana Club: Cuba’s most famous rum

Reading Time: 3 mins

Posted on the 25 February 20

Crafted in accordance with age-old tradition, Havana Club rum embodies the rich heritage and vibrant culture of Cuba. Here’s the fascinating story of how this storied spirit came to be

Famed explorer, Christopher Colombus, first set sight on Cuba in 1492 – when he first saw the lush and verdant land, he is said to have exclaimed that “the island was the most beautiful land ever seen by human eyes”. 

Soon after, the Spanish would colonise Cuba; bringing with them sugarcane and tobacco, both of which flourished as they were so perfectly suited to Cuba’s rich soils and climate that. So much so that, by 1850, the small but formidable country was exporting a third of the world’s sugar. 

The beginnings of the Cuban rum industry

Now, sugar plantations and rum go hand in hand – but it took a few more years before Spain would allow its colonies to distil, in fear of competition for its own exports. It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th Century (when Cuba was fiercely fighting for its independence) that the rum industry was allowed to grow… and profit.

By the late 1800s, innovation was booming all around the world. New technologies had arrived on the Caribbean markets and Cuban rum producers were some of the earliest adopters of column stills. Thanks to their boundless ambition and ardent creativity, they saw potential in these tools – and were able to develop a new style of rum made with exceptional raw materials. Lighter, fresher, but still characteristically Cuban, of course. 

Escaping prohibition for a decent party

Around the same time, in a cocktail of good fortune, the USA was caught up in the gloomy, vice-like grip of Prohibition. American tourists were flooding Havana in huge numbers seeking hedonism and escape across the sea. The booming party scene would soon earn the local bartenders, known as Cantineros, an international reputation – one that a shrewd government would seek to capitalise on.

The Cantineros developed their own cocktail style and turned towards original Cuban rums such as Havana Club to create classics like the Daiquiri, the Mojitio, the Presidente or the Cuba Libre. To this day, Cuban cocktails made with homegrown rums remain some of the world’s favourite tipples. 

Enter: Havana Club rum, a true representation of Cuba 

In the early 1970s, Cuba decided that Havana Club would represent the island, exporting premium-quality Cuban rums all over the globe. As a mark of its exceptional product, the brand created a new logo to be emblazoned on crates of bottles shipped to all corners of the world. It would symbolise the sun that shines on the island (creating the rich soil and homegrown rum), the warmth of the Cuban people and the free spirit of La Giraldilla, the emblem of the city of Havana.

… And now? You’ll see that very logo all around you, as the original Cuban rum has finally come home to the UK’s original Cuban rum bar. Havana Club rum is our house pour, featuring in many of our iconic cocktails and available in many different expressions for you to sip, mix, swig or shoot down in one. How will you choose to taste it? It’s your turn to write the next chapter.

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