In 1862 Don Facundo Bacardí Masso founded Bacardi in small distillery in Santiago de Cuba with a mission to create a smooth, light-bodied rum. Bacardi Rum was a revolutionary new spirit and a move away from the harsh rum that been produced in the past. In 1888 Bacardi received royal recognition from the Spanish Royal Family who authorised Bacardi to use the Spanish royal coat of arms on their labels and from 1900 permission was given to combine this with their Bat logo.
The Bacardi Bat logo has been with the company since Don Facundo’s wife spotted fruit bats in the rafters of their distillery. Believing Bats to bring good fortune the bat logo became the symbol of Bacardi – firstly burned into the barrels of their early rum production and then printed onto their bottle labels from 1888.
In 1890 Don’s third son, José opened a sales office in Havana and it is here that many of the rum cocktails we know today were created. In 1898 an American Engineer, Jennings Stockton Cox, created the original hand shaken Daquiri by adding lime juice and sugar to Bacardi Rum to create a thirst quenching classic. The Cuba Libre followed in 1900 when American soldiers asked for Cola to be added to Bacardi Carta de Oro. This classic cocktail takes its name from the battle cry of Teddy Roosevelt – Free Cuba! Famously, in 1936 a Supreme Court in the US ruled a Bacardi cocktail must be made with only Bacardi – no substitute rums – that’s the law!
In 1920 the US Congress banned the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol. Bacardi had already liquidated their assets in New York in 1919 and by 1925 they were inviting American tourists to visit Edificio Bacardi, their Grand Art Deco headquarters in Havana where the Bar scene was hugely popular with celebrities and even the Spanish royal family. One airline even advertised “Fly to Cuba and Bathe in Bacardi Rum”! The US ended national Prohibition in 1933 opening the US markets to Bacardi once again.
Bacardi faced one of its greatest challenges in 1960 when all its assets were illegally confiscated by revolutionary government forces in Cuba stripping the company of all they owned. The 98 year Coconut Palm planted outside their Cuban head office died shortly after this dark day. Fortunately, Bacardi had the foresight to move their yeast strain and trademarks out of Cuba for safekeeping allowing them to start again. It seems the Bat was looking out for them still.
Bacardi is now in the hands of the 7th generation of the Bacardí family and is still privately owned. Now with its head office in Bermuda and production facilities in over 12 countries, Bacardi owns over 200 brands including Grey Goose Vodkas, Martini, Bombay Gins, Dewars Blended Scotch whisky, Patron Tequila. Bacardi celebrated its 150th birthday in 2012.