The name is synonymous with rum. In fact, every classic rum cocktail was created with Bacardi, including the Cuba Libre and daiquiri. My first taste of it was mixed with Diet Coke in a college dorm room, long before I could appreciate the delicate flavors of a white rum. Since then I’ve come to appreciate the liquor as both a bartender mixing up tropical drinks for patrons and as someone who loves a good craft cocktail. Bacardi started as a family-owned company in 1862 and is now the largest rum distillery in the world, still family-owned. A Spanish immigrant to Cuba named Facundo Bacardí Massó sought to elevate the cheaply made liquor into an upscale drink with a complex flavor profile. He succeeded by adding yeast, charcoal filtering and aging in white oak barrels. Bacardí and his brother opened their distillery in Santiago de Cuba, where fruit bats lived in the rafters, later inspiring their logo. Over the years different family members took over the business, adapting it along the way. The company survived the Cuban War of Independence and the subsequent US occupation, but closed their New York bottling plant during Prohibition. In the 1930s, they expanded operations into Mexico, Puerto Rico and later the United States. The Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro caused the Bacardí family to flee and eventually move the business out of Cuba. In 1937, Bacardi found their new home at Casa Bacardi in Cataño, a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Art Deco building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and exhibits the eye for design found throughout Bacardi properties. The Art Deco building in Havana and Casa Bacardi in Miami, Florida are also architecturally unique. The tasting room at the Puerto Rico distillery, pictured above, is inspired by a bat taking flight. What started as one type of rum has now expanded into an empire, which carries dozens of types of rum, including flavored and aged varieties, all identified with the iconic bat. Bacardi also now owns other brands of top-shelf liquor, including Dewar’s, Bombay Sapphire, Grey Goose and St. Germain. A visit to Casa Bacardi in Puerto Rico, where the majority of the distillation is now done, is a fascinating way to understand how a family operation became a multimillion dollar company. The tour will end with a lesson on how to make Bacardi’s classic cocktails and the chance to purchase ingredients to take home.