The Bars the Rich and Famous Loved
QUITE A NUMBER OF CELEBRITIES HAVE VISITED HAVANA AND
THEY FOUND DELIGHT IN
SOME OF THEIR BARS
Since 2018, Havana is the IberianAmerican Capital of Cocktail, but this Wonder City, about to celebrate its fifth centennial, needs to raise the best drinks because a celebration like that well deserves it. This explains why the IberianAmerican Academy of Gastronomy has decided to keep this title for the city during the ongoing year, and a reason why the Excelencias Travel Agency takes on the initiative to invite you, dear reader, to unravel a route entitled "A Cocktail for You" , related to good drinking -part of the idiosyncrasy of this island nation's inhabitants.
It is a grand tour that will bring up anecdotes, remembrances and characters related to award-winning preparations. In addition to swinging by flagship bars, "A Cocktail for You" will take you to visit the renowned Museum of Rum, where you will be surprised by a cocktail-blending class that comes to a close with a sipping of it.
So, now that you are more familiar with the details that make these spaces so special, we leave you with a few curiosities linked to world-class personalities of literature, music, painting, theater and the arts in general.
On the corner of Obispo and Monserrate in Old Havana, the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature, Ernest Hemingway, who arrived to Cuba for the first time on April 1rst. in 1929, used to hang out for a mighty long time. There, in what is considered the oldest gastronomic restaurant in Cuba and perhaps in Latin America, the American writer enjoyed the famous Papa Double drink, made with grapefruit and no sugar to avoid making his diabetes worse, although the Daiquiri was his favorite.
Thanks to the bronze sculpture made by José Villa Soberón, who remembers the great Hemingway, it seems that the author of The Old Man and the Sea still leans on the counter of El Floridita, also very coveted by English writer Henry Graham Greene, who after comparing it with the Waldorf Astoria, the Savoy in London, the American in Paris, among other renowned establishments, said that this El Floridita is "the finest bar on earth."
LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO
In Havana, Hemingway also used to switch his lifestyle between the Hotel Ambos Mundos and La Bodeguita del Medio, where he delighted in the signature drink of the house: the Mojito. There, he wrote in 1954, on the pages of the restaurant's book of distinguished guests: "My Mojito in La Bodeguita, My Daiquiri in El Floridita." But the charm that this place hinges on its clientele, that also made many celebrities stamp their signature on the walls, right after journalist Leandro Garcia did it for the first time. It's there where we meet with the energies of Pablo Neruda, Agustín Lara, Brigitte Bardot, Ignacio Villa (Bola de Nieve) and Salvador Allende.
JARDINES DE TROPICANA
Tropicana is just about to turn eight decades, deservedly called a "Paradise under the Stars" and named "the most attractive and sumptuous nightclub in the world", a condition that has not lost because its shows -the fifth essence of the Cuban identity- let us take a closer look not only at the power of music and dance on the Island, but also at the undisputed beauty and sensuality of the people the islanders, and all that much happens in a place hemmed in by a lush garden. Many of the national and international stars that have staged in its dazzling shows used to spend time in the quieter space of the bar in the restaurant's gardens, where it was commonplace to make out the likes of Nat King Cole, Josephine Baker, Libertad Lamarque, Cheo Feliciano, Rita Montaner, Elena Burke...
BAR VISTA AL GOLFO
All the celebrities that have visited the National Hotel of Cuba over time have been seduced by its history, the relics it treasures, its impressive architecture. But also by the Bar Vista al Golfo, whose exquisite decoration harks back to the 1950s. Also known as the "Hall of Fame", its walls are decked out with pictures of those who have dropped by there to enjoy awesome cocktails: Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Johnny Weismuller, Maria Felix, Jorge Negrete, Marlon Brandon, Robert Redford , Michael Keaton, Danny Glover, Robert de Niro, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski and even Alexander Flemming, the creator of penicillin.
The novel "Our Man in Havana", taken to the big screen in 1959 by Alec Guinness in the leading role, refers to the bars and cocktails that can be found in the Cuban capital. Yet the Sloppy Joe's was the one the British actor could remember the most since it had become his favorite hangout in Havana. Celebrities such as boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis, actors Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and John Wayne, just to mention a few, followed in his footsteps back in the 1940s and 1950s. The place boasted a menu of 33 cocktails originally mixed by local barman Fabio Delgado, including the Sloppy Joe's drink.
La Bodeguita del Medio. Jardines de Tropicana. Sloppy Joe's.