Global Brand Ambassador for Ron Zacapa
1) Bucket List items for this year.
- Go on Safari in Africa. Completed this year during my last visit to South Africa for Diageo Reserve World Class Global Finals 2015. It was absolutely majestic, a once in a lifetime experience.
- Take sushi lessons. I want to learn how to roll sushi. I love it so much that I should know how to make it for myself!
- Attend 3 major international music festivals. For me live performances are the best. Taking the time to see new and old acts is incredibly rewarding, it enriches the soul!
- Organize more time with family and friends. My work schedule is not the easiest at times, but I always try to organize quality time with my family and loved ones. It is very important to me.
- Begin a healthier lifestyle. My goal is to begin a proper diet and routine exercise regimen to develop a healthier and cleaner lifestyle. The Brand Ambassador schedule isn’t always the healthiest. These 13 years of being a brand ambassador are finally catching up to me.
2) What is the biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplish for the rum industry
My biggest achievement has been educating not only the trade but consumers on the versatility, elegance and refinement of Zacapa Rum. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of engaging over 13,000 people across 4 continents and 25 countries, where I introduced the new ultra- premium rum category to markets that would have never imagined rum to have evolved into. I’m very proud of broadening the perspective of rum enthusiasts and new fans alike.
3) Favorite Drink + Recipe
I have so many. My favorite at the moment is the “Solera Piña” created by Lynnette Marrero (Ron Zacapa’s Mixologist for North America).
Here is the cocktail recipe:
1 oz of caramelized pineapple juice
1 oz of Fino Sherry
1.5 oz Zacapa 23
Garnish with vanilla salt
Place all ingredients except vanilla and salt in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain over fresh ice into a glass with a vanilla salt rim.
Caramelized Pineapple juice: This can be juice from grilled or roasted pineapples. This juice can be extracted or you can roast the pineapples and place in a blender then strain.
Vanilla Salt Rim: place vanilla bean with salt and sugar into a sealed container. Let infuse.
4) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?
5) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have helped you.
I’ve had the incredible fortune and honor to have worked side by side with some of the most talented individuals in the industry. My mentors have been trailblazers and pioneers like Lorena Vasquez, Master Blender for Zacapa Rum who has impacted me as a spirits educator and continues to instill the passion and love that I have for the industry. She became the first female to enter into Zacapa Rum during one of the most challenging times in her life. Through her undying conviction and passion, she has shaped the brand to become one of the most iconic luxury rum brands in the world. It’s an honor to share her story and Zacapa’s unique journey.
Another key individual is Laura Cullen, Vice President of Sales for Pacific Wines and Spirits, for Northern California. Laura has forever changed the landscape of our glorious industry with over 20 years of experience; she has been and continues to be a prolific champion for bartenders, master distillers and brand ambassadors. Her passion, hard work and her integrity impacted me early in my career. She understands the humanness of our unique industry, that the brands aren’t the most important aspect of the business. But what matters is, how we treat our peers, costumers and consumers. Laura has helped shape the USBG chapters and without really planning it, she has created the first industry family in Miami. Her words of wisdom made a lasting impression on me and have carried me through my career.
The last person that I’d like to highlight is Susan Strom, Director of National Accounts for Diageo North America. For the last 12 years, Susan has mentored and helped me navigate through the challenging corporate environment of Diageo. Diageo globally is one of the greatest companies to work for; I’ve had the honor to represent the incredible Diageo portfolio for over 13 years. But inside the vast company we have many departments and intricate teams spread across the globe, so navigating efficiently and impacting our internal stakeholders is key. Her warmth, sound advice and business savviness has propelled me to be where I am today. I cannot thank her enough for believing in the “young girl” who crossed her path many years ago and how she continues to install her warmth and has given me the gift, of guiding and coaching the next generation.
6) Any last words?
Always have passion but even more important, have humility! I can’t say enough about that.
7) About The Cocktail Wonk?
A few quotes that I like to live by:
“Do you have the guts to follow your own gut?” – Bruce Lee
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou
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