PUBS, PATIOS & BARS: For whom the mojito tolls
I’ll be honest, I don’t really get the Ernest Hemingway cult in Cuba (or elsewhere), but if you’re like a lot of visitors to Havana, at some point you’ll attempt to stop by the Old Town venue most commonly known as “the Hemingway bar,” otherwise known as La Bodeguita del Medio.
The 85-year-old hole-in-the-wall establishment and restaurant, found on Emperado St. – just off the Cathedral Square (look for crowds in the street) – actually boasts a rich and interesting history, which includes serving many notable patrons in addition to the author of “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and “The Old Man and the Sea.”
However, it has mainly gained fame for a line that Hemingway purportedly wrote: “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.” which is now posted, along with an image of the author, above the bar.
(There are many theories suggesting that the line was never written and is in fact a forgery).
The bar is tiny and open to the street (prompting patrons to spill out into the cobblestone lane) and the walls are famously decorated by guest signatures (which were painted over several years back in a move that shocked and appalled guests, and have subsequently, though organically, been repopulated).
Tourists typically drop by for a mojito – the ubiquitous rum drink made with sugar and mint leaves, which, it should be noted, the bar also claims to have invented – but food can be ordered in the back section.
There are certainly less congested places to eat and drink, but without the notoriety and requisite instagramability of La Bodeguita.
The venue’s brand has been expanded to other cities in Cuba – including Varadero, where a more spacious, but no less colourful sibling exists, and includes outdoor seating, live music. There are also franchises in other cities around the world.
But then they aren’t the original. So, if you want to go with the flow, or simply embrace the hype in Havana, we salud you! Whether Hemingway drank there or not, the mojito is a good one, and that’s all that really counts.
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. For more articles in the series, click here:
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First published at Travel Industry Today