Buying Rum in Cuba
Sometimes I do things I would advise against. In fact, more than once, I have specifically told readers not to do something, and then gone and done it myself. I don’t know man, sometimes I’m in it for the story. I mean really, most of the stories end up on my blog, so you could say I put myself into situations that range from questionable to dangerous all in an attempt to entertain you. So, hey, you’re welcome.
That being said, let’s talk about buying rum in Cuba, and how I decided to do it in the sketchiest way possible.
You can’t visit Cuba without buying Cuban rum
Cuba just opened its borders to US travelers for the first time in 50 years. I was lucky enough to be on the 3rd cruise from the US that was allowed to enter Cuba. I had to live it up, and living it up means DRINKS.
I wasn’t originally planning on buying any Cuban rum. I already live in Puerto Rico, so I have regular access to some pretty great rum. In fact, Cuba is crazy proud of the fact that Barcadi is originally from Cuba, but guess where the factory is now? Yeah, Puerto Rico, bitches. But more importantly, we have Don Q, which is a far superior rum. Also, I had just consumed an absurd amount of Brugal rum in the Dominican Republic. For a hot second, I convinced myself I had had my fill of rum. Then I came to my senses.
You want rum? I know a guy
You might recall the random Cuban guy who ended up showing me some pretty cool sites in Santiago de Cuba. Well, he wouldn’t really be a good tour guide if he didn’t offer me a baller deal on some local Cuban rum, would he? He didn’t actually ask if I wanted to purchase rum, he just said “You need rum? For a present? Yeah, I know a guy.”
When it comes to rum and cigars literally everyone in Cuba knows a guy.
I’ve heard this line before, but I was on my final day in Cuba and still hadn’t purchased a bottle, so I jogged after him as he sped through the town, guiding me to a friend’s house. He lead me through an alley and started banging on the door of a small house. At this point, I was thinking maybe the rum wasn’t worth it and tried to convince him to let it go. He wasn’t ready to give up, so he grabbed a guy from the house next door to join in on the door banging/name screaming efforts. Eventually, a guy in boxer shorts answered the door, rubbing sleep out of his eyes. Before I knew it, I was being whisked into the house.
I don’t want to die buying rum
I realized I was now outnumbered 3 to 1, so I kept the door cracked open, with my hand on the knob. I quickly assessed the room to look for potential weapons. Lamp. Heavy vase. Table to block the door while I run. I imagine I had the look of a gazelle being cornered by hungry lions. I thought to myself this is the kind of situation I would tell my readers to avoid.
But I was there, and the rum was being fetched. Boxer Shorts returned with a dusty bottle of Matusalem rum añejo. They explained that Boxer Shorts worked at the factory and was able to acquire rum for a discount price. I think it’s safe to assume that the rum “fell off a truck” or something along those lines. Tour Guide explained that the rum was shipped out of Cuba straight from the factory, which is why I couldn’t buy the rum at a store. That sounded like total bullshit, but it’s not like I could do any fact checking at the moment. Not wanting to be scammed too easily, I asked “And how am I supposed to know if that’s rum or water in that bottle?” Tour Guide countered with “Open it up and try it then.”
Remember, at this point, I am trapped in a house with 3 guys I do not know
Hm, accepting beverages from dudes I met minutes ago while in their house? Yeah, no gracias
At this point I had decided to just go with it. I had extra Cuban CUCs to spend and I figured the story would be better if I actually purchased the rum. I agreed to buy the bottle, but only if Tour Guide would let me take a photo of him holding it, to preserve the memory of this joyous occasion.
Hide that shit and run
As soon as I purchased the rum, Tour Guide told me to hide the bottle in my backpack. He explained that since they don’t sell it in the stores, I wouldn’t want to advertise the fact that I had it. He also pointed out I was about to be late for my meetup with my tour group, so he advised I hit the pavement and catch my ride.
I made it back to my bus and the Cuban rum made it all the way back to Puerto Rico with me, where I tried it with Pedro. Guess what guys? It was actually really delicious rum.
So yes, I would definitely recommend this Cuban rum. However, I would not recommend walking through alleys and unknown houses and buying it from men you just met. Do as I say people, not as I do.