Bacardi– More Than 150 Years of History
Bacardi was founded by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, an 18th century entrepreneur in Cuba who experimented for years with a local strain of yeast to create the world’s first smooth, light-bodied rum. In 1862, Bacardi had a small rum distillery in Santiago de Cuba, and the smooth, high-quality spirits it produced became the foundation of the Bacardi empire. Bacardi and his family pioneered new rum-making techniques, including a charcoal filter using coconut shells and tropical woods that cleaned the liquid of impurities that could destroy its taste and color. While many of Bacardi’s innovations have been adapted into rum production, the family continues to guard the recipe that gives Bacardi rum its distinct taste.
The company has expanded since the late 1800s, despite enduring natural disasters, political turmoil and a halt in American liquor sales during Prohibition. Don Facundo’s son, Jose, opened a sales office in Havana in 1890, and by 1910, the company had opened offices in New York City and Barcelona, Spain, becoming Cuba’s first international corporation. It then expanded to Mexico and then Puerto Rico, where it continues to operate the world’s largest premium rum distillery just outside of San Juan. The company scored a significant victory in 1936, when a New York Supreme Court ruled that New York bars could not substitute other rums in Bacardi cocktails. Bacardi has continued to be integral in worldwide cocktail culture, and its fine rum blends have maintained a solid reputation for quality. Now, more than 6 million BACARDÍ Cuba Libres are sold daily around the world, and Bacardi continues to promote innovation and excellence in its products and in its involvement in the global bar scene.
After specializing in rum for 130 years, Bacardi diversified in the early 1990s with its purchase of Martini & Rossi. The acquisition doubled the size of the company and opened up new distribution channels around the world. Bacardi is now the largest privately owned spirits company in the world, and it has continued to launch new products and add new spirits to its portfolio. After targeted growth in the United States and parts of Europe, Bacardi continues its expansion plans in China, the Middle East, and Russia. It remains, however, a family-owned company and its leadership includes members of the seventh generation of the Bacardi family.
Bacardi sells in more than 160 international markets, and operates production facilities in 16 countries. The company marked its 150th anniversary in 2012 with a yearlong celebration that culminated in the creation of a time capsule at its global headquarters in Bermuda.
This website will take you into the world of Bacardi, where you can explore its rich history and read about the brilliant minds behind the famous company. Learn about which of the world’s best loved cocktails were created by Bacardi and discover the series of rum blends inspired by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, who spent 10 years developing the perfect rum. While you're here, don’t forget to visit our blog, where we will keep you updated with interesting facts about Bacardi’s background.
Emilio Bacardí Moreau, the eldest son of Bacardi founder Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, was a rare politician. In 1898, after the Spanish American War, he was appointed as Santiago’s first mayor and subsequently lauded as one who demonstrated unfailing honor and integrity.
After the revolution, the United States remained as an occupying force both to help rebuild and to provide a transitional government. Cubans were torn between a desire to see their city rebuilt and a longing for the Americans to leave so they could govern themselves. Emilio Bacardí believed that initial cooperation with the Americans would be in the best interest of Cuba. Governor Leonard Wood, the U.S. military general appointed as governor in Cuba, appointed Emilio as mayor, saying “If that man is as good at being mayor as he is at making rum, there’s no one better.”
On the night of his swearing in, Emilio met public frustration head-on by inviting a U.S. Army officer and a Cuban rebel general to join him on the balcony in front of a cheering crowd. He announced to the crowd that three parties, the U.S. government, the Cuban Army to whom they owed their freedom, and the Cuban people whom Emilio represented, stood together as partners to address the needs of Santiago citizens.
In July of 1899, Emilio relinquished the position due to conflicts with the U.S. government’s management. He ran for mayor two years later in a free election as a reformer that would restore transparency and order to government and was elected with 61% of the popular vote.
One of his first acts as mayor was to renounce half of his salary. He opened municipal job opportunities for veterans and women, giving preference to war widows. He fought for health care services for the poor, lobbied Havana for additional money to improve sanitation services, apportioned city funds to improve harbor infrastructure in anticipation of the Panama Canal completion, extended electricity to the majority of the city, and built and improved roads. He championed the arts, building a museum that would later carry his name, constructing libraries, fostering a City Symphony, and founding the Municipal Academy of Fine Arts.
Through it all, he remained the consummate Cuban patriot, taking every opportunity to honor Cuban Army veterans as well as the families of the fallen. One of his proudest acts was to inaugurate the Fiesta de la Bandera, or Festival of the Flag, still traditionally held on New Year’s Eve. As the local church bells struck twelve on December 31, 1901, Emilio hoisted an enormous 25-foot flag, commissioned by local residents for the occasion. It was the first time the Cuban flag had ever flown over city hall.
During two terms spanning nearly six years, Emilio Bacardí earned a place in the hearts of the citizens and the title of “Santiago’s Favorite Son,” awarded by city Hall in 1906 in recognition for his tireless work on behalf of the city.
In the early 1850s, the Caribbean was awash in sugarcane molasses, a commodity so popular that sugarcane plantations sprung up all over the New World to cater to the world’s sweet tooth. In response to a challenge from the Spanish government to cut down on surplus molasses, Don Facundo Bacardí Massó opened his first rum distillery in Santiago, Cuba, on February 4, 1862.As a key part of his enterprise, Bacardi reused whiskey barrels for the aging of his company’s spirits.
From the very beginning, Bacardi has been mindful of sustainable business practices. The tradition continued until 2006, when the company formally began tracking its own use of resources. Bacardi made significant headway toward reducing waste, streamlining processes, and encouraging humane practices among its many suppliers. In just a few years, Bacardi scaled down water use in its facilities by 54 percent worldwide and reduced energy consumption by a quarter.
Today, the great success of the Bacardi Limited sustainability efforts has inspired the Company to unveil a new initiative called “Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future.” The innovative new plan, announced on the 152nd anniversary of the company’s founding, sets further goals for the company and names a number of specific targets for the coming decade.
For instance, by 2017 Bacardi aims to ensure that 40 percent of its sugarcane originates from certified sustainable sources. The company has already begun working toward this goal as a founding member of Bonsucro, which encourages socially and environmentally responsible sugarcane production throughout the world.
In addition, Bacardi plans to reduce packaging by 10 percent by 2017. As a result, the company will not only use less material in its products, but will also improve fuel efficiency during shipping. Furthermore, the company plans to reduce water consumption by an additional 55 percent beyond the gains it has already made in recent years. The company will also decrease greenhouse gas emissions by half and pursue many other sustainability targets.
The goals of Bacardi’s “Good Spirited” campaign are ambitious. By aiming high, Bacardi is charting a course toward responsible use of resources and truly sustainable business.
Bacardi Limited unveiled its latest initiative, “Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future” on February 4, 2014. Through this campaign, the world’s largest privately owned spirits company has outlined a set of ambitious goals for environmentally and socially responsible business practices in the coming decade.
With this announcement, Bacardi continues a century-and-a-half long tradition of promoting sensible, sustainable enterprise. From its first repurposed whiskey barrels used to age its rum 152 years ago to the latest innovations to its facility that have reduced its worldwide water use by 54 percent over just the last seven years, Bacardi has had a rich history of balancing business success with corporate responsibility.
To date, Bacardi’s efforts have earned it global recognition. Unique among major spirits companies, Bacardi Limited has earned “triple crown” status for quality, health, safety, and the environment from the leading standards organizations Occupational Safety & Health Advisory Services (OSHAS) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Bacardi’s “Good Spirited” initiative outlines a long-term plan to continue the company’s progress toward sustainability. The program focuses on three major areas:
– Responsible sourcing. At Bacardi Limited, a major goal is to ensure that partners in all of its brand supply chains conduct business in a socially and environmentally conscious manner. In a first for the industry, the company will produce 100 percent of its BACARDÍ premium rums using material from sustainable-certified suppliers.
– Global packaging. Bacardi Limited has pledged to utilize innovative eco-designs in all of its point-of-sale materials and brand packaging in order to reduce the consumption of raw resources.
– Operational efficiencies. In an effort to decrease production waste, Bacardi Limited has committed to reducing water usage by 55 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2017. The company will also streamline operations at all production facilities to completely eliminate landfill waste by 2022.
Through its “Good Spirited” campaign, Bacardi Limited has staked out a corporate leadership position. By creating a sustainable business model based on proven operational innovations learned over the last several years, Bacardi Limited aims to prove the economic viability of growing responsible partnerships and utilizing resources in a beneficial manner.
Since the cocktail’s creation in 1900, Bacardi estimates that more than 80 billion Cuba Libres have been served. Called Rum and Coke, Ron-Cola, Cuba, Rommikola, Baco, and many more iterations in dozens of languages, the drink is asked for by name nearly six million times daily, worldwide. In 1898, Cuba…
Before the revolutionary Cuban government changed the country’s political and business landscape in 1959, Bacardi chairman Pepín Bosch sought an architect to design an office building in Santiago. Impressed with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s work on the Crown Hall for Illinois Institute of Technology, Bosch commissioned the architect to…
In 1915, Bacardi expanded into the United States by building a New York bottling plant. The timing proved unfortunate – four years later the U.S. Congress passed the 18th Amendment, which introduced a ban on the production, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages in the country. This legislation became known…
Music has long been a backdrop to sipping a BACARDÍ cocktail and since the company’s founding, Bacardi has supported Cuban artists and up-and-coming musicians. The company started out by hosting carnivals featuring Cuban music and later hosted radio and television programs that brought Cuba’s artists into the spotlight. In the…
The grand, white beacon of culture and learning known as the Museo Provincial Emilio Bacardí Moreau stands in the middle of Santiago de Cuba’s historic district. Founded by Emilio Bacardí Moreau in 1899, the museum resided in several different buildings until its permanent location, the Neo-classical structure designed by architect…
In the 18th century, pirates drank fiery rum that burned going down but took the edge off a rough life. Cuban rum before 1862 was this same primitive aguardiente, or fire water – a drink so harsh that many Cubans preferred to use it medicinally rather than for drinking. Soaked…
Havana’s Art Deco jewel, known as Edificio Bacardí, explodes with bright color, geometric detail and stunning terracotta relief. Commissioned by Enrique Schueg during the Prohibition years, the building was completed in 1930 under the direction of principal architect Esteban Rodríguez Castells. Located on the west side of the city on…