Prior to the 19th century, mixing other ingredients with spirits was primarily done in order to mask the unpleasant or harsh flavor of the spirits themselves. Common mixers like fruit juice, sauces, honey, milk, cream, and spice were meant to make fiery rums and whiskeys more palatable. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that better distillation techniques produced lighter, more flavorful spirits that actually enhanced the mixed drink.
The first known bartending guidebook with recipes for cocktails was published in 1862, the same year Bacardí y Compañía was founded. New York-born author and bartender “Professor” Jerry Thomas wrote The Bar-Tender’s Guide, which created excitement about and demand for cocktails, especially in the United States. The first cocktail party was reported to have occurred in May 1917, in the home of Mrs. Julius S. Walsh, Jr. in St. Louis, Missouri.
Three of today’s most well-known cocktails were invented in Cuba around the turn of the 20th century. American mining engineer Jennings Cox created the Daiquiri, using BACARDÍ Carta Blanca rum, limes, sugar, water, and crushed ice. Demand for the beverage exploded a few years later, when Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, a veteran officer of the Spanish-American war, introduced it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington D.C.
The mojito is one of Cuba’s oldest cocktails, with some evidence indicating its development as early as the 1500s by an associate of Sir Francis Drake. Alternatively, African slaves may have invented the mojito in the 1800s, making it with aguardiente (the crude and fiery rum of the day), sugar, lime, and mint. Admiration for this drink increased when Facundo Bacardí’s light-bodied rum entered the market, and the mojito became a very popular cocktail in the late 1800s.
The Cuba Libre, a highball made with BACARDÍ rum, Coca-Cola, and lime juice, was created in Cuba just after the Spanish-American war in 1900. According to one story, off-duty soldiers from the U.S. Signal Corps, still stationed in Havana after the Spanish-American War, watched one of their commanding officers order a BACARDÍ (Gold) rum with Coca-Cola and lime wedge, on ice. His enjoyment of the beverage encouraged the soldiers to try it, exuberantly toasting ¡Por Cuba Libre! in honor of Cuba’s recent liberation. Today, the drink is one of the most popular cocktails in the world.
Facundo Bacardí’s mixable white rum entered the market as a key player in the emerging cocktail culture worldwide. United States citizens in particular took to the trend, sipping cocktails in bars throughout the nation, and later in illegal speakeasies during Prohibition. After a period of declining popularity in the second half of the 20th century, a cocktail renaissance has recently emerged as bar patrons rediscover the enjoyment of a well-crafted, traditional cocktail.