With a history dating back to 1862, Bacardi has had a great deal of influence on the spirit industry. The company that began with one distillery in Santiago de Cuba now comprises over 200 labels around the world, and over the past 150 years, Bacardi has had an equally significant impact on art and culture. From the brand’s wildly popular programs on 1950’s Cuban radio stations to modern-day partnerships with culinary superstars, Bacardi has always played a role in shaping how people socialize and celebrate. But Bacardi’s cultural impact is perhaps most evident in the brand’s contributions to cocktail culture. Like the mojito, daiquiri, and Cuba Libre, the origins of the following three cocktails illustrate the timeless link between Bacardi and pop culture:
- The El Presidente
There are actually two iterations of the El Presidente, both named after former Cuban leaders. The first, simply called El Presidente No. 1, draws its name from President Mario Garcia Menocal, who led his country from 1913 to 1921. His request for a cocktail rivaling the Manhattan—the classic combination of whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth—led to the creation of a stylish new drink described in a 1919 edition of the New York Evening Telegram as a mixture of “BACARDÍ, granatin, and French vermouth.” Like a Manhattan, the El Presidente No. 1 contains Angostura bitters, vermouth, and a cherry or twist of orange peel garnish, but the El Presidente trades the Manhattan’s sweet vermouth for a red variety, namely MARTINI Rosso. Naturally, El Presidente No. 1 swaps out whiskey for a dark BACARDÍ rum, like BACARDÍ Gold.
El Presidente No. 2 is a drier drink that has earned the moniker “the aristocrat of cocktails.” Many attribute the combination to an American bartender by the name of Eddie Woelke, who served patrons of Havana, Cuba’s Jockey Club. His variation of the El Presidente pays homage to Gerardo Machada, Cuba’s president from 1925 to 1933. The drink calls for a light rum variety, such as BACARDÍ Superior, as well as Noilly Prat vermouth, orange curaçao, and pomegranate grenadine. Garnished with an orange peel, it found popularity in America following the repeal of Prohibition.
- The Mary Pickford
The Mary Pickford cocktail honors the early movie star of the same name, whose trademark curls and girl-next-door charm earned her the title of “America’s sweetheart” during the height of the silent film era. Mary Pickford starred in more than 50 films, and her popularity marks one of the first times that the American press and public became captivated by a celebrity. Mary Pickford also produced movies, co-founded the United Artists film studio, and helped establish the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so it’s no wonder that her arrival in Havana was a momentous occasion warranting the creation of a special drink.
In the 1920s, Mary Pickford and her equally famous husband, Douglas Fairbanks, traveled to Cuba along with Charlie Chaplin to begin filming a new movie. At the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, bartender Fred Kaufman dreamed up a cocktail specifically for the American movie star. He began with freshly pressed pineapple juice, then added BACARDÍ Superior rum, pomegranate syrup, Maraschino liqueur, fresh pineapple, and a preserved cherry, creating the one-of-a-kind Mary Pickford cocktail.
- The Hemingway Special/Papa Doble
By the 1930s, works such as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and Death in the Afternoon had garnered widespread praise and popularity for Ernest Hemingway, who by then was well on his way to becoming a great American novelist. However, this surge of attention created complications for Hemingway, who found his Key West home crowded with friends, fans, and family members attracted by his newfound success. This crowded atmosphere wasn’t very conducive to writing, so Hemingway relocated to a rented room in the corner of the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Havana, Cuba.
When he wasn’t writing, Hemingway fished, placed bets on local jai alai games, and explored the thriving Havana bar scene. El Floridita Restaurant, near Parque Central, became one of his favorite places to imbibe, perhaps because it was where he first discovered the daiquiri. Though the novelist was famously fond of alcohol, the daiquiri became one of his most beloved cocktails. His affection for the drink was eventually immortalized in his book Islands in the Stream, where he mused, “This frozen daiquiri, so well beaten as it is, looks like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.”
Legend has it that Hemingway first became acquainted with the daiquiri while on his way out of El Floridita, when he saw bartender Constantino Ribalaigua lining his famously frozen daiquiris along the bar top. Hemingway sampled the creation, which Ribalaigua made “frozen” by shaking ice chips with the traditional rum, sugar, and lime juice. As a diabetic, Hemingway preferred the drink with Maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice instead of sugar—as well as an extra shot of rum. Thus, the Hemingway Special—or Papa Doble—was born.