What do you get when three friends put their heads together to create the perfect hard seltzer for Miami?
You get Casalú, a mashup of the words "casa
" and "salú
" — a simple way of saying, "Welcome to our home."
Launched in Miami earlier this month, the new rum-based hard seltzer is doing just that: inviting others to share Latino culture.
The story of Casalú begins with cofounders Ricardo Sucre, Gabriel Gonzalez, and Gustavo Darquea, who met while attending North Carolina State University.
Throughout college, the three friends would often share memories of home and family over their drink of choice: rum. They didn't realize it at the time, but they were on their way to creating Miami's first Latino-owned hard seltzer.
"Ricardo was always the one looking for any option that wasn't beer," Gonzalez tells New Times
. "When the seltzer boom started, he found his drink."
But there were still a few problems for Sucre, who says most hard seltzers were missing that "Latino" vibe.
"The tipping point was finding seltzers made out of vodka and tequila and simply wondering why none were made with rum, which is the spirit of choice in many Latino countries, including Venezuela, where Ricardo is from," Gonzalez says.
During the summer of 2020, Sucre decided to create his own hard seltzer — one he felt would be a catalyst for sharing his culture with others. Using añejo rum as a base, he experimented with different recipes using a SodaStream to whip up his take on a rum-based, carbonated drink.
While Sucre was perfecting his rum-based hard seltzer, Gonzalez began exploring ways to communicate the idea of Latin culture authentically. Through his love of reggaeton, he created "Tropicalation," a playlist of Latin favorites that would later become a pillar for Casalú.
To that soundtrack, an early homemade version of Casalú was born: a simple marriage of aged dark rum, lemon juice, organic agave, and carbonated water that pays homage to the trio's heritage and culture while inviting others to share in that experience.
Casalú's first offering, "Limón," is described as "crisp and balanced" with the perfect amount of buzz. The 5.9 percent ABV beverage sells for $13 for a four-pack of 12-ounce cans.
This month, Casalú became available in select bars, restaurants, and stores across Miami, including Brickell Wine Bank, Aficionados, Miami Dade Liquors, and Vintage Liquors' midtown and Brickell locations. The drink also ships to 20 states direct-to-consumer via DrinkCasalu.com
"We created a refreshing and crisp seltzer that both the new generation of drinkers and our grandparents can enjoy together," Gonzalez says. "This brand is all about how we express our Latinoness, and we took that job very seriously. It is a daunting task to put all of us under one umbrella because the reality is we are all very different. But this drink reminded Ricardo, myself, and Gustavo of something we would proudly serve our grandparents and our friends alike."
"Casalú' is more than a hard seltzer. Think of it as the next Red Bull, but Latino," Sucre sums up.