Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mojito Club at Willie's Steakhouse

After Mike and I visited the Vega Alta Tavern and a quick pitstop at Royal Dominican Cigar Shop (two doors down from Vega Alta Tavern), we decided to get some food and we went over to my good old fashioned local restaurant Willie's Steakhouse, 1832 Westchester Ave, New York, NY 10472 (718) 822-9697. We were stuffed after enjoying a "small" platter (which incidentally is rather large for a small. The large platter is gigantic) and a couple Dos Equis Amber beers. As per custom, I like to see what liquors they have on their shelves. On the rum shelf a bottle caught my eye.

At first I thought that I saw a bottle of Havana Club on the shelf. Now for those of you who don't know, Havana Club is one of the most famous of Cuban distilled rums that because of the embargo levied by the United States against Cuba is not available here in the United States. Now if you look at the picture of the Mojito Club bottle (further down below), it has a very similar logo to the Havana Club rum. My curiosity was piqued. I decided to look into this further.

I went to the website Mission Liquors and looked at the listing for the Mojito Club. Off the bat I see that it is "Made in Mexico Made with rum, lime, natural flavors & certified colors". I decided to look into it further. I found an article written by Larry Luxner entitled Mojito Club: everything's Cuban but the rum itself. from August 1, 2002. Here is how Luxner describes the Mojito Club:
Earlier this year, Pernod Ricard USA rolled out Mojito Club--a citrus-flavored, rum-based spirit distilled in Venezuela and bottled in Mexico.

Yet tourists who have been to Cuba will notice that the label on each bottle of Mojito Club--right down to the lettering, coloring and icon of its La Giraldilla logo--is nearly identical to that of Havana Club, which Pernod Ricard can't sell in the United States due to the embargo.

Mojito Club is already available on liquor-store shelves in New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore and South Florida. It retails for $13 per 750-milliliter bottle and also comes in 50-milliliter and one-liter sizes.

Pernod Ricard, which reported $4.5 billion in 2001 sales, says Mojito Club "takes its inspiration from one of Cuba's oldest drinks, the famed mojito cocktail," and that it expects "the recent Latin cultural sensation sweeping America" to boost sales considerably.

"Flavored rums continue to be one of the hottest categories in distilled spirits, while young, urban sophisticates across the country tout the mojito cocktail as the next big drink," hypes a press release written by New York-based Hunter Public Relations. "Mojito Club will further drive this booming trend, offering consumers a bottled embodiment of the passionate, sexy, free-willed Cuban experience."
Pernod-Ricard is the owner of many international brands including the Havana Club brand. Why can they sell this product here in the United States but not the Havana Club rum that this particular product seems inspired by? As per the article, the rum is made and distilled in Venezuela and bottled in Mexico. While the rum used in undoubtedly inspired by the original Cuban rum, it is not made nor bottled in Cuba, hence why it can be sold in the U.S.A.

I asked the bartender what she tought about the Mojito Club. She was unimpressed. As you would assume with any pre-mixed product sold over the counter, it did not stand up to an authentic mojito. Her assessment was good enough for me.

So that's all from my adventures in the Bronx on the night of the last home game for the 2013 New York Yankees. Back to my regularly scheduled post from the GMT Tavern.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla