Puerto Rico is known for its rum and its coffee. I loved touring Casa Bacardi and sampling some great rums and then visiting Hacienda Buena Vista Coffee Plantation just outside of Ponce.
Casa Bacardi: Sounds a little touristy, but I did enjoy visiting the famed rum distillery in Cataňo a short drive from Old San Juan. It is the largest in the world. You get a good idea about the history of the brand and how rum is made. The company left Cuba and moved its headquarters to San Juan after Castro took over in 1959. There are heirlooms and photos of the past, displays on how the sugar cane is harvested, how rum is distilled and the various types of rum. A bartender then shows you how to make a mean mojito, Cuba Libre (rum and coke) and the original daiquiri. The best part is that you get to taste the various types of rum and rum cocktails!! The 8 year old is the best for sipping.
Hacienda Buena Vista Coffee Plantation: I had never seen coffee growing so I loved touring this historic plantation where you can see how they lived and operated the plantation using water power. They do produce coffee which is harvested in October where visitors can see how it is processed. It is located in Barrio Magueyes on State Road 10, North of Ponce.
The Caribe Hilton played important role in the development of one of my favorite coctkails. ‘In 1954, our bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero created a special cocktail that mixed rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice – and the delicious Piña Colada was born! The drink was served personally by the creator for 35 years while he worked as a bartender at the hotel, and in 1978, the Piña Colada was declared the official drink of Puerto Rico. In 2004, Caribe Hilton was presented with a proclamation signed by Puerto Rico’s Governor Sila María Calderón, supporting the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Piña Colada.” The original recipe is as follows:
2 ounces white rum
1 ounce coconut cream
1 ounce heavy cream
6 ounces fresh pineapple juice
½ cup of crushed ice
Add the rum, coconut cream, heavy cream and pineapple juice in a blender. Add the ice and blend until smooth for about 15 seconds. Serve in a 12-ounce glass. Garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.