Owners of restaurants and bars in the United States that serve recipes from the Republic of Cuba are reporting an increase in the number of customers inquiring if the establishment has rum from the Republic of Cuba.
Mr. Adolfo Mendez, who is of Cuban descent and the owner of Cubano's restaurant located in Silver Spring, Maryland, near Washington, DC, shared that approximately fifteen (15) to twenty (20) of every one hundred (100) customers ask if his restaurant serves rum sourced from the Republic of Cuba.
Restaurants and bars located in Las Vegas, Nevada, are reporting customers increasingly asking for rum sourced from the Republic of Cuba.
In some instances, bar owners and bartenders have been keeping bottles of rum sourced from the Republic of Cuba out of sight- and for the use by "regular customers" or "those who want to leave a good tip."
Currently, regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury prohibit the commercial sale of alcohol products imported from the Republic of Cuba, although the importation of alcohol products from the Republic of Cuba for personal use is authorized. Individuals subject to the jurisdiction of the United States are permitted to return from the Republic of Cuba to the United States with up to US$100.00 worth of alcohol products for their personal use.
In April 2016, the United States Department of State added coffee to the list of authorized products that may be imported from the Republic of Cuba to the United States for commercial purposes. Textiles (with sourcing restrictions) may also be imported for commercial purposes.
There is an expectation that the Obama Administration will be adding to the list of authorized (with sourcing restrictions) products before 20 January 2017, perhaps to include tropical fruits, charcoal, sugar, honey, alcohol, and seafood.
A challenge will be for Members of Congress who support the removal of restrictions upon United States exports to the Republic of Cuba potentially being impacted by the interests of companies located in their respective districts/states who will have a concern about additional imports becoming threats to their domestic market share.