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PUB, PATIOS & BARS: El Floridita, where you don’t have to give a poop about Papa

Cuba is famous for mojitos, but there’s also a case to be made that daiquiris originated on the island, while some claim further that they were perfected at Havana’s renowned El Floridita restaurant and cocktail bar.

Located in the older part of the city about half a kilometre from the Old Town, El Floridita (“Little Florida”) boasts over 200 years of history, but is also inextricably linked to its most famous patron, Ernest Hemmingway, who signed a plaque displayed on the wall of the bar memorializing his own words, “My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita.

Hemingway statue

Indeed, the author’s image legacy is further heralded throughout the establishment via assorted memorabilia, including both a bust and a life-size bronze statue at the end of his bar (in what is said to have been his favourite spot), while is his name also adorns the marquee outside.

A favourite of tourists on the city’s ubiquitous Hemingway trail, the venue drips with history and local ambiance, making it an interesting stop even for those who really couldn’t give a poop about Papa and his exploits the city in the 1930s.

Founded in 1817 as the La Piña de Plata (The Silver Pineapple), the named was changed to its current version about a hundred years later and today the décor recalls the 1940s and ’50 as red-jacketed bartenders entertain patrons with their elaborate cocktail mixing, befitting the bar’s self-proclaimed status as the “Cradle of Daiquiris” and home of the first frozen version of the drink.

Which is not to say that having a mojito at La Floridita is not without merit, as many online patrons (Hemingway’s boast notwithstanding) declare it the best they’ve ever had.

And there are other signature drinks, such as the Longines Cocktail, attributed the legendary late owner and master mixer, Constante Ribalaigua Vert (1888-1952), as well as beer, whiskies, and, of course, Havana Club rum.

The restaurant is also known for its fish, albeit offered at touristo prices.

And what would a great bar without music, with local bands providing a requisite salsa soundtrack to the experience.

El Floridita is located at 557 Obispo, on the corner of Obispo and Monserrate streets and across from the National Fine Arts Museum. It is open from 11 a.m. to midnight.

With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues.


First published at Travel Industry Today

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