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While Bacardi and McCann Digital seem to have pulled their sites on the Web and FaceBook for now, you can still see the Google Cache of this utterly disgusting attempt at attracting customers. Maybe the Israelis have a strange sense of humor about these sort of things, but I find the campaign utterly degrading towards women, as the premise is that in order to make yourself look good this summer, you should find yourself an ugly girlfriend. The interactive, flash based web site features four ugly girlfriends, "Ugly Girlfriend for the Beach", "Ugly Girlfriend for the Mall", "Ugly Girlfriend for a BBQ", "Ugly Girlfriend for a Pool Party", all of which portray women in the most unflattering way.
Bacardi, I'm not sure the last time you checked, but in your largest constituency, Puerto Rico, where most of your product is produced for the North American market, most women don't fit the ultra-thin, supermodel archetype. They're chunky. And I like them that way. And I'm guessing your insensitive advertisements wouldn't go over real well over there.
[EDIT: Bacardi, in official response (see talkbacks) is claiming that the advertisement in question ran for two months in 2008, and does not support the views of the local affiliate that produced it. That's fine and dandy, but why wait so long to pull the site?]
Being something of a rum enthusiast myself, and having a collection of over 50 different kinds from all parts of the world, I've decided to provide a list of Bacardi alternatives so that you can make your rum drinks this summer without having to support a bunch of misogynistic, insensitive, callous jackasses.
Don Q Rum, produced by Serrales, the second largest spirits company in Puerto Rico, is a perfect analogue and swap-in replacement to Bacardi. Like Bacardi, it has the distinction of being inexpensive and easy to find at just about any liquor store, and it comes in both clear (Cristal) and dark (Anejo) forms as well as Lemon, Mojito and Passion Fruit versions. Don Q is also the preferred mixing rum of most Puerto Ricans, as it is generally less expensive than Bacardi. Serrales is also the same company that makes Captain Morgan and Palo Viejo.
While DonQ Cristal will easily sub in for Bacardi Superior/Carta Blanca, for mixing rum and Cokes for a large party, or for Pina Coladas, my workhorse Dark Rum vote has to go to Brugal Anejo, from the Dominican Republic. While primarily popular among Domican Americans, Brugal is easily found in just about any liquor store in the United States. The White variety is also very good, but harder to find.
For flavored rums, look no further than the United States Virgin Islands own Cruzan Rum Distillery, which makes a large selection of high quality fruit infused rums. Among my favorites are their Guava, Junkanu (Citrus) and Pineapple. Cruzan also makes some premium aged rums as well, such as their Estate Diamond and Single Barrel which have won a number of tasting awards. Every rum I have ever tasted from Cruzan is top quality, so if you can find it in your local liquor store, by all means grab it up.
When it comes to sipping rums straight over ice, I have a number of favorites, each of which has their own special characteristic flavor. Ron Del Barrilito, from Puerto Rico's tiny Edmundo Fernandez distillery, has good distribution in the United States, and is a very high quality rum enjoyed by many Puerto Ricans for after-meal festivities. Barrilito is such good stuff that I've been known to buy entire cases of it for gifts when I come back from trips to Puerto Rico. Edmundo Fernandez only makes two Barrilito rums -- the Two Star, which is aged for at least 3 years in bourbon barrels, which is also good for mixing, and the Three Star, which is a blend of rums 6 to 10 years old. The 3-star tastes best over ice.
While not currently available in the United States due to trade embargo, I'm also partial to the Havana Club 5 and 7 year olds, from Cuba, which can be easily purchased in Canada as well as most parts of Europe through any store which carries Pernod-Ricard products. For a similar tasting Cuban-style rum that is distributed in the United States, the Miami-headquartered and Cuban-American owned Matusalem makes really four really nice rums -- a white, gold, 7-year old and a 15-year-old Solera (my fave) from the Dominican Republic.
For a really different rum experience, have a look at Barbancourt from Haiti, which has a characteristically smoky and complex flavor due to its unique blend of distilled aged sugar cane juice, sugar syrup and molasses rather than just molasses like industrial rums from DonQ or Bacardi. Barbancourt is offered 3-star (4 years old), 5-Star (8 years old) and Reserve du Domaine (15 years) versions. My favorite, naturally, is the 15-year, which like the Barrilito should be reserved for drinking straight over ice, although I admit it makes a hell of a Rum and Coke Zero. With a glass of Barbancourt over ice, you too can feel like a Papa Doc or Baby Doc from the privacy of your own home.
For super special rum drinking with your closest friends, such as appreciating a fine cigar, pick yourself up a bottle of Ron Zacapa CentenarioReserva, a blend of 6 to 23-year-old rums from Guatemala. Up until recently, this ultra-super-premium aged rum had only limited distribution in the United States, but now it should be much easier to find. This rum should really be served neat, like a cognac, in a brandy snifter, and tastes better when warmed by the heat of your palm.