National Rum Day is right around the corner, and we’re gearing up to celebrate the sugarcane spirit on August 16.

To help us observe the holiday, we turned to Ned Duggan, the Global SVP of Marketing at BACARDÍ, to learn more about the history of the brand and how they are celebrating this year. Check out our interview with Duggan below as you gear up for a day of great rum drinks this month.

Ned Duggan portrait with neon lights

Ned Duggan

Talk to us about National Rum Day. How instrumental is BACARDÍ in creating and celebrating this day?

This is an exciting year for rum. The category is on the rise, and the premium and super premium segments are catching fire, so there’s no better time to celebrate than on National Rum Day. In fact, why not celebrate all month long! Whether you enjoy a smooth sipping rum neat or on the rocks, or in an elevated, refreshing cocktail, the premium rum portfolio from BACARDÍ, HAVANA CLUB, Santa Teresa, Banks and the FACUNDO Rum Collection offers countless ways to savor the spirit this summer and beyond.

Tell us how BACARDÍ celebrates National Rum Day with its heritage and history.

BACARDÍ is the world’s most awarded rum and has more than 156 years of heritage and leadership in the rum category. The brand has been the global leader of rum culture for generations and has also been responsible for innovating rum culture, whether through cocktails or new expressions of the spirit. As a family brand, BACARDÍ is thrilled to celebrate all things rum this National Rum Day. This is a spirit that naturally evokes good times and has done so for more than 150 years.

What are some of the best BACARDÍ cocktails to mix on National Rum Day?

One of the great things about rum is that it’s such a versatile spirit, so there’s a delicious rum cocktail for everyone on National Rum Day! For those who like a classic, spirit-forward cocktail, we’d recommend trying an Old Fashioned made with BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho—it’s popular among top bartenders and spirits connoisseurs alike. For those looking for something more refreshing to beat the heat this August, a HAVANA CLUB Guayabita Daiquiri is the perfect tropical escape, regardless if you’re stuck in the city instead of the beach.

What are some of the historical traditions centered around this day?

The Bacardi family has a long culture and tradition of celebration—we like to think we know how to throw a good party! In terms of traditions, BACARDI rum has a rich history and tie to music, dating back to the 1920s in Cuba where Facundo Bacardí’s grandson, Facundito Bacardí, hosted popular fiestas with live music in the family home. In more recent years, we’ve adopted these family traditions and encouraged consumers across the nation to grab some friends, turn up some music that puts you in that ‘island vibe,’ and raise a glass in honor of the spirit.

What is the best way to celebrate National Rum Day with BACARDÍ?

Join us in toasting with rum! Across the nation, we’ll be hosting exciting events to celebrate National Rum Day. No matter where you are, you can celebrate at home with your favorite rum cocktail. Stop by for dozens of recipes, both classic and new and noteworthy.

As a brand, we’ll be celebrating across the nation in various ways, and we’d love to have you join us. In New York, we’re partnering with some of the top bars and bartenders in the city to highlight exclusive rum-forward cocktails all August long. In other cities, we’re looking forward to top bars putting their own spin on the holiday with exclusive rum cocktails.

What should bartenders know about National Rum Day?

We’re thrilled that rum is having such a moment with the trade right now. Rum is seeing a resurgence with dedicated tiki bars and rum bars popping up all around the world. This National Rum Day, we would be so excited for bartenders to join us in encouraging cocktail lovers to consider rum as their premium spirit of choice, whether in a cocktail or neat. Premium aged rums make for a fantastic base spirit for classic cocktails and more trend-forward recipes alike. In an Old Fashioned, rum gives the iconic recipe a special twist and pairs perfectly with the zesty orange.

Any historical fun facts you can share?

Rum is a historically significant spirit and the basis for a host of iconic cocktails enjoyed globally today. With such a deep heritage around the world, there’s no shortage of interesting tidbits about the spirit. One lesser known fact is that rum was once used as currency! Later on in 1862, BACARDÍ revolutionized the spirits industry when founder Don Facundo Bacardí Massó began producing his remarkable light-bodied, smooth rum. The unique taste of BACARDÍ inspired cocktail pioneers to invent some of the world’s most famous drink recipes including the Mojito, Daiquirí, Cuba Libre, Piña Colada and the Presidente.

An interesting fact about the brand is that when BACARDÍ was still based in Cuba, it had one of the first ice plants in the country. Every person who bought a case of BACARDÍ would also receive a token to redeem for a block of ice at the BACARDÍ ice plant. This allowed bars to serve cold cocktails, which was a huge luxury at the time because there was no electricity. The classic Daiquiri cocktail (which was first made with BACARDÍ rum) thus became one of the first cocktails to list ice as an ingredient on menus. In more recent years, the Daiquiri was a favored drink for many during the mid-century. While Hemingway might be most famously associated with the cocktail, President John F. Kennedy was another fan—he drank the cocktail on his sailboat, the Honey Fitz.