Touring the Bacardi Factory in Puerto Rico
Visit the Bacardi factory and let rum be your guide through history!
It's Cuba Libre time!
Bacardi rum is famous all over the world, and with the distillery only a short ferry ride away from San Juan, it's the perfect experience to have on your Puerto Rican adventure.
A staple in some of your favorite drinks, Bacardi can trace its history back to 1830, when its founder, Don Facundo Bacardi Masso, emigrated to Cuba from Spain and began experimenting with liquor. However, its popularity didn't truly begin spiking until the liberation of Cuba and the invention of the Cuba Libre (Coca Cola, a lime, and *supposedly* Bacardi rum).
Afterwards, Bacardi expanded into the US and eventually the Bacardi family and their facilities moved into Puerto Rico. There, the factory grew and Bacardi's reputation expanded.
Fun Fact! - Bacardi actually owns other brands, such as Grey Goose Vodka, Patrón Tequila, Bombay Sapphire Gin, as well as whiskeys and wines.
Visiting the Factory
Open every day (Mon-Sun) at 9am, all tours end before 5pm.
Today, the factory borders the shores of the Bay of San Juan, opposite the city of Old San Juan. The ferry ride from one side to the other is 50 cents per person each way and the ride takes less than 10 minutes.
Once you reach the other side, you'll see vans lined up outside ready to offer you a deal to take you to the factory. Whereas I forget how much the driver asked for, we had five people with us and a $20 covered a one way trip plus tip.
Address: PR-165, Cataño, 00949, Puerto Rico
The drive is very short and all drivers pull up near a large outside tent called the Bat Bar Pavillion. Here, you can buy drinks, hang out, play cornhole, take pictures, and buy tickets!
There are three tickets offered:
- A guided historical tour of the factory that lasts 45 minutes. $15 + tax
- A rum tasting tour that lasts 75 minutes (you must be 18 or older). $50 + tax
- A mixology class that lasts 75 minutes (you must be 18 or older). $60 + tax
All tours require you to be at the property 30 minutes in advance and will give you a free drink token to use at the Bat Bar Pavilion.
Tip! - Ask for a drink that isn't a Mojito, a Cuba Libre, or a Daiquiri, because those are the drinks you'll make in the mixology class. Also, clean out your cup and keep it as a cute keepsake (it's legal).
The Mixology Class
With the mixology class, we had a tour of the facilities and learned about the background of rum and the Bacardi family. From beginning to end, we learned about how each ingredient plays a part and saw the fermenting, distilling, and aging processes first hand!
Fun Fact! - The Bacardi symbol is a fruit bat, not for some hidden vampire conspiracy theory, but because the wife of Don Facundo (the founder) saw the bats nesting in the roof of their distillery and suggested using them as the symbol. This was a perfect choice, as bats are typically seen as a sign of good fortune in many Latin American countries. Also, they help keep insects away from the sugarcane used to make rum!
And now the main event!
As said above, the Mixology class teaches you to make the three most famous Bacardi-rum based drinks: Mojito, Cuba Libre, and Daiquiri.
You'll arrive in a classroom like setting (if only school had really been this exciting). The tables are high up and set with all the necessary tools and ingredients.
First, the Mojito.
The Mojito is a deceptively annoying drink to make. So when you go to bars and ask for one, the eye roll you get in return is only partly because you're too basic to branch out and try something else.
- 2 parts Bacardi rum (light, traditionally Superior)
- 2 tsp fine sugar
- 4 lime wedges
- 1 part club soda
- 12 mint leaves + a garnish for the end
- Squeeze lime juice into the glass, gently incorporate sugar.
- Press the mint leaves between your palms firmly, rub the essence around the glass rim, and drop them inside.
- Use a muddler to compress the lime and mint together.
- Add crushed ice, then the Bacardi rum, and stir.
- Add club soda and a mint garnish.
Next, the Cuba Libre.
Although the Cuba Libre is one of the easier Bacardi drinks to make, it holds the most importance in their history and is probably one of the first cocktails your parents introduced you to (because surprise, it only really tastes like coke, unless you want to make it more fun).
- 1 part Bacardi rum (gold, traditionally Carta Oro)
- 2 limes
- 2 parts Coca-Cola
- Fill a glass with ice and squeeze the limes over it, then drop them in.
- Pour in the rum followed by the cola and mix together.
- Add more limes if wanted (for taste or for garnish).
Lastly, the Daiquiri.
When you think Daquiris, you probably think of sickeningly sweet blended drinks available poolside at resorts, usually only served as strawberry flavored. While this is a vacation staple for many, the classic hand-shaken Daiquiri leaves its blended counterpart in the dust.
- two parts Bacardi rum (light, traditionally Carta Blanca)
- 2 tsp sugar
- one part fresh lime juice
- Put sugar and lime juice together in a cocktail shaker and stir until dissolved.
- Follow with Bacardi rum and ice.
- Shake what your mama gave ya.
- Put drink through a strainer into your waiting glass.
After your class they'll funnel you through the gift shop, because of course they do.
It's a decent gift shop (nothing can compare to Guinness), where you can buy limited edition Bacardi rums you can't get anywhere else. Shirts, hats, other merchandise, etc... - you get the picture.
Tip! - Before you leave, head back over to the Bat Bar Pavilion for some pictures if you weren't able to take them before your tour/class. There's a wonderful view of Old San Juan.
To get back, just go to where you were dropped off by the vans (the parking lot next to Bat Bar Pavilion), and wait for someone to approach you. The price should be the same as before, if not, put those haggling skills to work.
And voila! You now know more about alcohol than you did before visiting, but with all those drinks you had in between, you might not remember much by tomorrow!
For more information, visit the Bacardi website: https://www.bacardi.com/us/en/