Let me start this post out by saying I’m a whiskey girl so I didn’t land in Puerto Rico with predetermined intentions to get to a rum distillery at all. Actually, the only time I can ever think of planning to visit a rum distillery was when I visited Cuba. Rum is just rarely on my radar, nothing against rum. I do love a good mojito or a rum and coke. Despite being slightly oblivious to “rum culture” I found myself booking a mixology class at Casa Bacardi Puerto Rico. It was hands down the most fun experience I had in San Juan! There’s lots to do in Puerto Rico, but this one is definitely a must-do!
About Casa Bacardi Puerto Rico
Bacardi was actually founded in Cuba in 1892 when Don Facundo Bacardi Masso bought a small distillery and revolutionized the rum-making process. The distillery in Puerto Rico was built in 1930 as Bacardi was expanding its operations outside of Cuba. A distillery was built in Mexico during the same time.
On October 14, 1960, the operations and assets in Cuba were seized by the revolutionary government and the Bacardi family was forced to flee the country in order to maintain the business. At this point, the company had operations set up in the US, Mexico, Bermuda, Spain, and the Bahamas. This move proved to be beneficial given in 1979 Bacardi became the world’s number one premium spirit brand.
Casa Bacardi Puerto Rico was opened in 2003 to be a state-of-the-art tourist attraction offering a celebration of the resilience of the Bacardi family and information of the family history through several tour options. The “Cathedral of rum”, is the world’s largest premium rum distillery.
Casa Bacardi Puerto Rico Tours
There are a few different tours you can do at Casa Bacardi Puerto Rico depending on your interests and how much you want to spend:
Casa Bacardi Founder’s Experience
In this tour, you’ll get an intimate tour going deep into the unique aging process of Bacardi rum. This is the VIP experience that comes along with a welcome cocktail, a “VIP ride”, visit to the tropical aging warehouse, and a curated rum tasting.
Duration: 120 mins Cost: $200
This is a high-energy, hands-on class where you’ll learn a bit about the history of the rum. You’ll also learn how to make a perfect Mojito and a Piña Colada while learning the history of these cocktails.
This tour comes with a welcome cocktail, trolley ride, and everything you need to make your drinks.
Duration: 75 mins Cost: $75
Rum Tasting Tour
This tour will carry you through Bacardi’s history and then turn you into a rum aficionado. You’ll learn to taste rum “the right way” and you’ll get to taste premium rums from Bacardi paired with chocolate. This tour also includes a welcome cocktail and a trolley ride
Duration: 75 mins Cost: $75
On this tour you’ll get to know the history of the Bacardi family watching a movie at the visitor center. You’ll also get to taste the Casa Bacardi Special Reserve Rum which you can only get at Casa Bacardi. This tour also includes a welcome cocktail and a trolley ride.
Duration: 45 mins Cost: $30
My Mixology Class Experience
This mixology class almost didn’t happen for me. I originally suggested it to my friend who was in Puerto Rico with me for the first half of my trip. She and I didn’t quite make it to the mixology class before she left. But, on a whim, I decided to book it during the solo portion of my trip. Boy did my friend miss out! Ok, let’s get into it.
I pulled into the grounds and they were immaculate! It almost looks like you’re pulling into an upscale resort. There’s a gated entrance leading into a large open green space with a small lake surrounded by palm trees.
The Pavillion looks a bit like a small opera house or Cirque du Soleil tent. You’ll notice each tour listed above involves a trolley ride. It’s because the grounds are pretty expansive!
I arrived at Casa Bacardi about 20 minutes late for the start of the tour. This means I missed the time to do my welcome drink at the Pavillion but when I checked in they still gave me my drink token and hurried me onto the trolley to meet the tour group at the main building.
The main building looks a bit like a gallery. You walk through these large columns with the Bacardi Bat emblem perched on top. The foyer takes you back to old Puerto Rico with traditional decor. Once in the main building, our tour guide handed us a glass of rum to kick us off and discussed some of the history of Bacardi and talked a bit about what goes into the rum. He went around the room and sprayed both of our hands with two of the rum ingredients. One smelled like PURE rubbing alcohol and immediately made me wince! But when we rubbed both hands together, the resulting smell was pretty pleasant and almost sweet.
After our brief history lesson and tasting, we were guided to a different building and shown to our classroom. The classroom had roughly 15 tables with two stations each. At the front of the classroom is the instructor’s station and two large monitors.
Each station had ample space for you to move around and is equipped with every single thing you need to make your cocktails including two small bottles of Bacardi rum. My class had about 15 people total. This included a small family of about four people, a few couples, a couple of friends, and me – the only solo student. I’ll say I was there alone but didn’t feel lonely at all. Everyone in the class was so friendly and the instructor’s energy definitely created an atmosphere that made us all feel like we came there together. There was lots of music, dancing, toasting, and laughing throughout the entire class.
Class started with our instructor cranking up some music, going through each of the items we had at our station, talking how to properly use them, and practicing how to properly say “Bacardi”. The instructor let us know that we would be making two drinks – a mojito and a piña colada and while we made the drinks he would talk to us about the history of each.
I sincerely love a good mojito! I don’t often order them because, let’s be honest, many bartenders don’t take the time to intentionally muddle the mint to extract the oils that will give the mojito the best flavor. A well-made mojito is a thing of beauty. It’s delicious, refreshing, and effervescent. It tastes like vacation! A poorly made mojito tastes like bland sugar water. It tastes like disappointment.
The name “Mojito” is a mashup of African and Latino languages and cultures. Many of the ingredients were separately used to address illnesses. The name is said to come from the West-African word “mojo” which means “potion” and the Latino suffix “ito” means “small” thus the word mojito means “small potion”.
In some bars, you’ll see the bartender slap the mint with their hand to draw out the oils (and because they think it looks cool). We learned in class that this is not the best way because drawing out the oils in your hand means that some of the oils will end up on your hand and not in the drink…where they are needed most!
Once we made our mojitos, we toasted to our classmates nearest to us. We danced and sipped. Then we dance and drank. And next it was time to make piña coladas.
The Piña Colada
I actually do not like pina coladas. I don’t like coconut flavors and I don’t like pineapple flavors. The Pina Colada has both. Gross! But I’m a good sport and I’m all in for the experience so I went along with it and made a piña colada with the rest of my classmates.
The Piña Colada is the national drink of Puerto Rico. It’s a light but rich, creamy, sweet drink. It’s touted as everyone’s favorite vacation drink but, obviously, I beg to differ. The drink was created in 1954 by a bartender at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan. The name literally translates to “strained pineapple” as this was the main ingredient of the drink – strained pineapple juice.
While we were making this drink, we still had our mojitos we previously made. At random intervals, our instructor would yell DRINK and crank up the music and we downed more of our mojito in an effort to finish it before we were done making our pina colada! Once we made our 2nd drink, we went around the room toasting everyone in class and…you guessed it -we danced and sipped. Then we danced and drank!
I actually tried the piña colada I made because I’ve never actually tasted one before. I know for a fact that I don’t like coconut, I also know for a fact that I strongly dislike pineapples. With those being the primary ingredients, I’ve never needed to taste it to confirm I don’t like it or convince myself to like it. But here was an opportunity to just do it to say I did. The result was that I was right all along. It’s not for me. Like not at all! You have to see my reaction, I look so utterly disgusted. BUT I can see how people who like coconut and pineapple could love this drink. It’s sweet, it’s light, it’s cold, it has all the elements of a great vacation beverage.
Once class has ended, we were given the opportunity to take photos with the instructor. I opted to take a video with him shaking our money makers! Afterwards, we were carted to the gift shop where we could buy Bacardi-branded items like t-shirts, accessories, glassware, etc. You could also purchase bottles of Bacardi that you can’t buy in regular stores. I didn’t purchase anything but instead walked back to the Pavillion to cash in on my drink chip that I didn’t get to use on arrival. I opted for a mojito at the bar and strolled around the pavilion checking out what they had to offer.
The Pavillion is really meant to be a waiting area for intake and registration for the tours but it’s not a bad spot to just hang out and have drinks. They have games like giant jenga and cornhole and they even have hoola hoops. I tested my skill with the hoola hoops to see if I still had it and took a few photos and videos in front of the Casa Bacardi sign.
My Overall Review
I give this tour 5/5 stars! I said it before and I’ll say it again, it was the most fun activity I did while I was in Puerto Rico and I truly am sad that my friend missed out. Most of the class, I found myself making mental notes about a future girl’s trip.
That said, this class is EXCELLENT for a girl’s trip or guy’s trip. It’s also great for couples. And, given I went solo, I’d say it’s not a bad experience for the solo traveler either.
Here’s what I loved about this experience:
- The grounds were beautiful
- It includes 3-4 drinks when you count the welcome beverage, 2 tastings, and the 2 drinks you make in class. This seems like a better value than a typical tasting
- The class was so interactive and high-energy
- They have everything you need waiting for you. Just show up ready to have fun and drink
- The instructor was just incredible. One of the most fun instructors I’ve had in a class like this. He set the tone and ensured we all had an amazing time
- Totally and completely felt like I got my money’s worth!
If you’d like to get a more lively view into my experience, you can check out this reel recap I created. You can also check out:
And if you’re wondering what else you should do during your time on the island, I have a blog post detailing a Puerto Rico Itinerary for 7 Days.
Drop a note in the comments and let me know if you plan to visit Casa Bacardi Puerto Rico and if you’ll take the mixology class!