Bar crawls are always fun, but when Bacardi is hosting, you really have no choice but to go. To celebrate the daiquiri’s birthday, the world’s oldest and most famous rum brand took Tales by storm and flew in bartenders to mix the iconic drink at New Orleans bars with local bartenders.
Rum. Lime. Sugar. Jennings Stockton invented the classic drink in the small town of Daiquiri, Cuba in 1898. He’d either be proud or horrified to imagine all the fresh-squeezed, bottled, syrupy, or frozen variations his creation would inspire ever since.
Café Henri, Cure Co’s new and straightforward restaurant in the Bywater, is the first stop. Local couples and families are sitting down to dinner as Tales attendees flock around the bar. Nick Detrich, Cure Co partner and proprietor of rum bar Cane & Table, serves up two kinds of daiquiris with Dan Sabo.
Juan Coronado, who is hosting the crawl for Bacardi, shakes Nick’s hand as Martin Kruger, the brand’s Advocacy Program Managers, walks into the venue grinning.
“I just got back from Cuba,” Nick tells me with a smile as he alternates between pouring daiquiris with Maestro, orange and curacao and frozen versions with White Rum and maraschino. “Make sure to try both.” Both versions made and consumed quickly. The balanced flavors and summer heat see to that.
El Libre is up next. The compact Cuban café opened last fall in the French Quarter to serve up sandwiches and rum drinks. It’s to capacity once the daiquiri crowd rolls in. Gina Kent serves up sweet and tart daiquiris imbued with aloe and raspberry liqueurs. They run out of glass and serve most of the drinks in plastic go-cups, but no one minds.
Kingfish, a southern restaurant a few blocks away, is packed and its bar is not quite ready. The crowd storms in, much to the chagrin of the hostess attempting to hand out menus. Shannon Stiggins and bar staff are washing glasses with coconut oil fat and pouring Superior and pineapple cordial daiqs into them.
“I love this one. It tastes like suntan lotion but incredible,” one lady exclaims.
To me, the drink resembles a velvety, sour piña colada. Nice texture.
No one dares mention a coconut rum brand owned by a competing company.
Palace Café, Dickie Brennan’s restaurant the edge of the French Quarter, renovated its bar last year. Black Duck Bar is rum-focused and beautiful, and Tales is trial by fire for any new bar. Johnny Cod and Bacardi are providing two daiquiris here: One is Superior with pineapple and coconut and barrel-aged bitters. The other is sweetened with banana liqueur and feels very like it belongs on an island beach. As Tales is an industry event, “customers” help with shakers to keep service fast.
Victory, on Baronne Street, is the final stop on the crawl. Proprietor Daniel Victory’s bar is a CBD staple and used to crowds during weekend nights and festivals. I ask him how his Tales is going.
“We got this, man. We were open through Essence until 8 in the morning,” he says with a quick laugh before going back to service. He and Joe Frade pour two Bacardi daiquiris: One with egg whites and another with fresh beet juice.
As the sun dips behind the New Orleans skyline, the evening culminates with a party around the Ace Hotel’s rooftop pool. Bacardi has several more daiquiri options here—My favorite was one with Superior, lemon, sugar, and dark crème de cacao.
Juan leads the celebratory toast, acknowledging the daiquiri’s impact. “This is the cocktail that brought me to this industry. This is the cocktail that brought us together today. It’s Don Facundo’s legacy,” he says paying tribute to Don Facundo Bacardi Masso, the man who founded Bacardi in 1862.
The crowd hushes appropriately and joins in on the toast. But once it’s over, the festivities continue. New Orleans is a Caribbean city, and if there’s food on the grill, rum, and ice, this party will keep going.
Andrew Marin writes about cocktails and food for Where Y’at Magazine, and he is working Tales of the Cocktail (talesofthecocktail.com) this year. Follow him @ndrewmarin on Twitter and Instagram, and add andrewmarin on Snapchat for live updates. #DaiquiriTimeOut