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Bacardi Cocktail

It’s 1937, a mere four years since the end of prohibition, and the New York Supreme Court is holding a hearing on the legality of using any type of rum other than Bacardi to make the famous Bacardi cocktail. After hearing from a number of local NYC bartenders, some of which blasphemously claimed that they use the cheapest or handiest rums available to make a Bacardi cocktail, Justice John L. Walsh declared that “Beyond a reasonable doubt subterfuge and a fraud is subjected on the purchaser when Bacardi rum is left out of a drink listed as a Bacardi cocktail.”

The Bacardi cocktail is both vibrantly hued and flavored.

Bacardi cocktail
2 parts Bacardi white rum
Juice of a whole lime
1/2 part grenadine

Shake over ice and serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of lime.

As of this month, it’s been 75 years since that famous New York Supreme Court ruling. As a chronic rule breaker,  I tend to use whatever type of rum I have on hand when mixing a Bacardi cocktail – which, interestingly enough, is very rarely Bacardi brand rum.  The lasting appeal of a Bacardi cocktail is undeniable no matter what rum you use when making it though. It’s a sweet and sour tipple that may be one of, if not the, best rum cocktails ever invented.

Looking back on the origins of the Bacardi cocktail, it’s hard not to think that it is probably just as old as its closest cousin, the daiquiri. The Bacardi distillery was founded in Cuba in 1862 and the cocktail that bears its name couldn’t have been too far behind. The only real difference between the original daiquiri and the Bacardi cocktail is the addition of grenadine to the mix, which, as anyone who is a fan of Bacardi cocktails knows, makes all the difference. The earliest actual mention of the cocktail came in 1917, less than a decade after the first mention of the daiquiri. In ’17, Hugo Enssline included a recipe for a Bacardi cocktail in a drink mixing guide that called for gum syrup to sweeten the mixture instead of grenadine.

Somewhere down the line a new variation of the Bacardi cocktail was created. By adding a small portion of gin to the mix, a Bacardi special is born. This is my personal favorite way to prepare the drink; I believe it gives it both an added depth and a bit more of a bite. When mixing a Bacardi special, add about 1.5 parts rum and about 3/4 parts gin.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of this magnificent cocktail, I suggest that you make April a month in which many a Bacardi cocktail/special finds its way in front of you. Just remember to always use fresh lime juice and, if possible, homemade grenadine. Salud!

  1. April 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

    This is a great drink, I agree, but I think the key to making a nice Bacardi cocktail is to NOT use Bacardi, as it is no longer a Cuban-style rum. Havana Club is the way to go. So oddly enough the more authentic Bacardi Cocktail does not have Bacardi.

    The other key is definitely homemade grenadine. It’s a lot easier than people imagine. At its simplest just shake a cup of pomegranate juice with a cup of water in a bottle until the sugar has dissolved. To complicate slightly add about another tablespoon of sugar, and an ounce or so of vodka (peferably over-proof) to help it keep, and some red food coloring to help it look nicer and shake again. You can keep this in freezer for at least several weeks, and maybe a couple of months. It doesn’t freeze solid, but forms a syrup.I’ve had great results with both freshly squeezed and bottles juice.

  2. April 27, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for the tip on the homemade grenadine, Boolion. I’ll have to give that method a try, soon!

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