Cuban Rum, Pennsylvania, OFAC and a Recipe

Posted by at 6:16 pm on May 2, 2017
Category: Cuba SanctionsOFAC

Havana Club on the Road to Havana by Richard Smallbone [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Flickr [cropped and processed]In an earlier post, I expressed some incredulity with respect to an dubious scheme cooked up by some Pennsylvania legislators to import Cuban rum without an OFAC license.  The scheme was based on a questionable reading of Clause 2 of the Twenty-First Amendment. There’s no way to tell whether my derision directed at the legal case for Cuban rum-running by the Pennsylvania legislators was responsible, but it appears that someone in Pennsylvania has thought better of the idea.

According to this article, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board which runs the Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores, Pennsylvania’s state-owned monopoly on the sales of wines and hard liquor, is preparing a license to file with OFAC to permit the PLCB to purchase Cuban rum for sales in those stores. The application apparently argues that the “mystique” of Cuban rum would create a boon to the Pennsylvania economy by enticing shoppers into the state-run liquor stores. After all, who needs to fly down to Havana when you can buy Cuban rum in a state store in Erie or drink authentic daiquiris made with Havana Club in Wilkes-Barre?

A Pennsylvania state senator instrumental in the state’s efforts to bring Cuban rum to his state dismissed the notion that this plan posed a threat to national security, telling ABC News “We’re talking about buying a rum.” Good point.

But, of course, with all things Cuba not everyone agrees — here’s an irate letter to the editor of the Express Times in Lehigh Valley criticizing the proposed rum deal.

For those of you now planning a road trip to Pennsylvania to stock up on Cuban rum when (and if) it becomes available there, I commend to you this recipe for the El Presidente Cocktail. This cocktail was named after Cuban president Gerardo Machado (who served between 1925 and 1933) and was a favorite among Americans who sought respite from Prohibition in the night clubs of Havana. And, as the recipe makes clear, use real grenadine that you make yourself, not that pink-colored sugar water that you find on grocery shelves or in the wells of your less estimable drinking establishments. Cheers!

Photo Credit: Havana Club on the Road to Havana by Richard Smallbone [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Flickr [cropped and processed]. Copyright 2013 Richard Smallbone


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Copyright © 2017 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
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I was expecting at least one comment about the pending retirement of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Comment by LDM on May 2nd, 2017 @ 7:57 pm

You forgot the Yo ho ho in your post title. Completely amusing, nevertheless.

Comment by Heather Noggle on May 2nd, 2017 @ 8:55 pm

As a long time resident of Pennsylvania, I can assure you that most of the legislators can not tell the difference between derision and a cow pie. There are so many problems in PA but it’s good to know that the legislatorsa want some of that good Cuban demon rum.

Comment by Ed Fox on May 3rd, 2017 @ 8:24 am