Monday, July 10, 2023

The dream of Emperor Maximilian is Mexico

When he was known as Archduke Francisco Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria, he planned to retire to the good life in Trieste. Trieste was the chief seaport of the entire Austria-Hungarian empire. It is worth visiting this fascinating city on the Adriatic, which borders the former Yugoslavia.

The beauty of the building belies it’s sad history. So often when visiting house museums one learns that the visionary of these architectural opuses rarely live long enough to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

The waterfront castle in Trieste is sadly no exception. In fact, the property is purported to be cursed for all who dared to take up residence after Maximilian. He would who become Emperor Maximilian 1 of Mexico. The castle was built between 1856 and 1860 for he and his wife: Charlotte of Belgium.

The couple was pressed into duty by his brother and the French, who hoped to establish a foothold in North America. The plan was to seize power in Mexico while the American government was distracted by the Civil War, then march and take territory north of Mexico. It was ultimately a disastrous insurrection attempt.

Maximilian 1 was declared emperor in 1864. Within three years he was dead by firing squad. His distraught wife returned to the castle and went mad. Maximilian’s lasting contribution to Mexico was the introduction of European-style lager that he enjoyed due to his Austrian heritage.

The repercussions of Maximilian are still felt today. A 1920s start up called Cerveceria Modelo thrived with its namesake lager: Modelo. The company also added a lighter lager called Corona. Today Grupo Modelo has more than half of Mexico’s beer market share.

Remarkably Modelo, now brewed by an American firm - Constellation Brands - has waged its own successful insurrection - Mexican American style. With turbulence in the beer market due to some missteps by market leader Annheuser Busch, Constellation stepped in and dethroned the “king of beers”. Demographic shifts, superior manufacturing, distribution and retailing won the day for Modelo.

Explore Miramare with a few taps in amuz.

Extra Credit:

Trieste and the meaning of Nowhere by Jan Morris

"The beer is Modelo Especial, and the company is Constellation Brands (ticker: STZ). Mexico is said to have developed a taste for European-style lager after Vienna-born Maximilian I was declared its emperor in 1864. He lasted three years and died by firing squad; local brewing fared better." - Barrons