Interview with Carlos Santiago – Brands Specialist, Professional Bartender

Carlos Santiago

Brands Specialist, Professional Bartender / Mixologist

Advanced Mixology Bartending Training Course, Director

1) Who is Carlos Santiago?

Hello! My name is Carlos Santiago from San Juan, Puerto Rico – Rum Capital of the World.

Currently I am the Advanced Mixology Bartending Training Course Director (The first Advanced Mixology course in the island of Puerto Rico), Brand Specialist for Bacardi and Founder of the future Rum Club in Puerto Rico – Añejo.

I have worked 12 years in the Food and Beverage Industry from cruise ships to top hotels in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.  The way I came into the Rum Industry was thanks to my career as a Professional Bartender / Mixologist.  After studying, visiting and acquiring many rum bottles for my personal collection, I was able to be a part of the great Bacardi family.  Thanks to my experience with Bacardi, visiting all the rum distilleries on the island and visiting those on smaller islands, I have been able to create a regional expertise in the rum industry. Being able to experiment creating my own small batches of rum and getting to meet more master rum distillers around the world has enabled me to create my own saying, “The Rum Spirit is not just another spirit to sell, but a way of life.”

2) Biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplish for the rum industry.

The biggest achievement I feel I have accomplished for the rum industry, recently, is creating various projects that will help promote and maintain Puerto Rico as a top rum producer in the world.  These projects start from the Rum Club mentioned earlier to a Rum Museum in the future, to local Rum Cocktail Seminars that are currently being offered at this time.

3) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

The reason I fell in love with Rum is mainly because of its background and the direct relationship it has with the History of Puerto Rico.  From the sugar cane fields, to the train that transported the sugar cane across the island, to our most famous local cultural distillate known as “Ron Cañita” or “Pitorro”, there are too many reason to why not to fall in love with this incredible spirit.   This “love connection” happened for me around four years ago when various questions came to mind about production types, types of rums and overall how to drink rum in its different categories.

4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry? ?

What motivates me about continuing in the rum industry is what lies ahead.  From the overwhelming rise of the global craft cocktail scene, to more artisanal rums being created, different rum fusion projects and my own personal rum venues, it is definitely a wonderful time to be in the overall spirits category anywhere in the world.

5) Favorite Rum Drink + Recipe?  

I really don’t have a favorite drink based upon the fact that I am more of a “depending on the mood and atmosphere” kind of drinker, but I do have a wonderful cocktail recipe that I would love to share.  It is one of my many rum cocktail recipes and it is one of the simplest ones to make.  It is called the:

 “Acai Daiquiri”

1 ½ oz     Bacardi Superior (Carta Blanca)
1 oz         Simple Syrup
1 oz         Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz         Acai Liqueur (Cedilla)
1              Egg White

Important Note: First dry shake all the ingredients rigorously to break the egg white protein. Then continue by adding ice and finish shaking.

Method:      Shaken
Glassware:  Cocktail Glass
Garnish:      Dried Lavender

6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?

Today the rum industry is booming thanks to the cocktail scene around the world and smaller batch productions are being produced.  In the next 5 years I can predict numerous amounts of activities related to the rum world and more brands in the world stage.  There may even be new innovative practices to help in the rum production process.

7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have help you.

There are definitely two mentors that have helped me in my beginnings in the rum industry and still to this day.  William Ramos – Bacardi Brand Master and Juan Cartagena – Bacardi Ambassador.  Everything from Sensory Evaluations to Cocktail Techniques have been learned thanks to these two professionals and I am fortunate to be able to call them my mentors.

8) What 3-5 things do you have in your bucket list for the next 12 months?

Great question!  There are many things in my bucket list, but these are some of the most recent ones:

  1. Rum Club – Añejo operating by July 2016

  2. Rum Museum Project – Selecting a final location by September 2016

  3. The Mixologist Studio – My personal business venue, opening by November 2016

  4. Visiting 4 more Rum Distilleries before December 2016

9) Any last words?

First of all, I would like to thank The Rum Lab for the interview and invite everyone down to the 7th edition of the Taste of Rums Event in Puerto Rico. It will be on February 19 and 20 in Old San Juan.  It is a one of a kind event in which combines our culture, music, local food and of course our wonderful Rums all in one event.  I will be there personally and would love to meet any of you that may be coming down to the event.

10) How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page? 

You may contact me at my personal Facebook page or through my training course: –  I will be finishing up a web page for the training course and other projects mentioned very soon, until then, SALUD to everyone and CHEERS on your next Rum Cocktail!

Author: Fede

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