Inside Casa BACARDÍ’s intimate Nochebuena experience on Ossington

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Featuring an outdoor firepit, tropical décor and plenty of mouth-watering rum cocktails

This holiday season, BACARDÍ is playing tribute to its Cuban roots with a special celebration for Nochebuena. In Latin cultures, Nochebuena refers to Christmas Eve, and usually involves the season’s biggest, most festive gathering—plus a feast that puts Thanksgiving to shame. Naturally, traditional Nochebuena shindigs usually take place in climates that are a little steamier than Toronto’s, which is why the brand collaborated with well-known designer Candice Kaye to bring a taste of the tropics to the Ossington strip.

Kaye’s a textile artist who’s created designs for brands like Nike and custom wallpaper for restaurants like Planta Queen. When it came to curating this event space for BACARDÍ, Kaye was tasked with transforming a shipping container into a cozy-yet-tropical living room, where up to 10 diners could sip festive rum cocktails and dive into a family-style menu. She lined the space in a bespoke printed wallpaper full of florals and lush palm fronds, a sleek industrial harvest table, lucite chairs and an eclectic mix of luxe CB2 décor. The result was a space that feels like it could be steps away from a beach instead of a snowbank. Combined with mini pine trees, fiery heating lamps, twinkling lights and all manner of sparkly decorations, the living room—a.k.a. Casa Bacardi—is a beacon of warmth and festive cheer on the trendy Ossington strip this November.

On Monday evening, Casa BACARDÍ welcomed its first round of guests for an evening of eating, drinking and colourful conversation. The night kicked off with a welcome cocktail called a Coquito—which, as Senior Portfolio Ambassador for BACARDÌ, Kris Bahamondes explained, is basically eggnog without the egg. The name means “little coconut”, and it’s a traditional Christmas drink that originated in Puerto Rico. Next, guests were led on a tasting of three of Bacardi’s most interesting bottles: BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro, which is aged for four years in the Caribbean sun; BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho, a smooth sipping rum that’s the go-to for shots back in Cuba; and BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Diez, an expertly blended bottle that’s been aged for at least 10 years and is filtered through charcoal for a smooth finish.

Next, it was time for the food. BACARDÍ partnered with one of the city’s best culinary producers, Victor Dries, owned by chefs Chris Brown and Grant van Gameren, to whip up an unforgettable meal on an outdoor firepit. Guests were served family-style, as an ode to the family gatherings that typically take place during Nochebuena, and dishes included shrimps in coconut sauce, grilled squash, jamon croquettes, chicken on rice and red beans cooked with collard greens and fried plantain. It was finished with a decadent flan cake, served with flambéed bananas and dulce de leche. Guests ate their fill, and washed it all down with a selection of warming rum cocktails, mixed with ingredients like apple cider and cinnamon.

BACARDÍ is inviting Torontonians who are legal drinking age in Ontario (19+) to enter to win a BACARDÍ Nochebuena experience for up to 10 friends. Contest submissions will be accepted by sending an email to BACARDI@pomppr.com that states why entrants believe they deserve to win this exclusive experience. Winners will be selected and contacted by November 27, 2019. Nochebuena experiences available November 28 to November 30. Full contest rules and regulations can be found here.

BACARDÍ believes in the importance of family and community, which in Cuban includes feeding your neighbour – thus, anyone who doesn’t win can still warm up with a bowl of hearty Cuban stew, cooked streetside on the outdoor fire, this Saturday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Follow along at @BacardiCanada with the hashtag #BacardiNochebuena and #CasaBacardi.