Archive for March, 2010

Your Man in Havana: or Stumbling after the Perfect Daiquiri while Trying Not to Spill my Mojito

Friday, March 26th, 2010

bhhavana0001_14.jpg

Revolutionary decor in Havana’s Coppelia ice-cream parlor

Well over a year after I left the place, I’m finally writing about Cuba. I didn’t stay as long in Cuba as I would have liked. The lack of Internet in Cuba made work, and hence a lengthy stay, difficult. My stay lasted only five or so days, but during that time I devoted myself fully to drinking in the sights – and the rum.

I left Guatemala on a dawn flight, transited in Panama, and was in Havana by early afternoon. From arrival Cuba had its own unique feel. Havana airport was slightly worn, but red painted girders and splashes of yellow made it seem bright and cheerful.

(more…)

Guatemalan Rum: Zacapa versus Botran

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

bhguatemalarum0001_1.jpg

While offering pleasant sojourning, the Guatemalan rum landscape does not exactly excite with its variety. Everything comes from a single company, Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala, though that company produces at least two labels – Zacapa and Botran.

Zacapa represents the glamorous international face of Guatemalan rum: attractive, commercialized, definitely expensive, and while it makes for exceedingly pleasant company, you can’t help suppressing the occasional yawn and wondering how thick that make up is. Botran in contrast is the slightly homely stay-at-home sister, working a nine-to-five job and hurrying home to cook instead of mixing with high society, and generally getting taken for granted by all and sundry. Zacapa smugly preens itself from little clusters of high priced bottles in duty free stores and on the top shelves of smarter bars, while Botran runs itself ragged covering the shelves of local supermarkets and bars, where it jostles for attention with the anise liqueur that is ubiquitous in Latin America.The question then is this: does Zacapa deserve to be Guatemala’s Ambassador of Rum?

Being a rebel, and a fan of rum with a glow to it, I’m going to support the underdog and say I rather like Botran.

Exhibits A through E follow.

(more…)