When in Havana, you drink Havana Club straight,
sipping, swirling high in the light, tasting the balance
of caramel and oak from twelve years captive in cask.
The rum master does not apologize for the numbness
on our tongues or for his four-pocket shirt,
but he pulls our attention to the warmth and the long finish.
He explains all rum is a blend.
This distillery, born in the 1800’s is,
“historically, the best blender
of the soil, sun and brown sugar of Cuba
together with the jazz drums, salsa dance
and the unabashed friendliness of the Cubans.”
We drink our large samples, try in vain to blow off the excess
alcohol, and before long our host smiles to tell us
that we have, together, “woken up the devil.”
“Havana Club,” was first published in 2018 by Wanderlust Journal.