“My Mojito in La Bodeguita. My Daiquiri in El Floridita” – Ernest Hemingway.
Cuba was throwing oddballs at me. I needed to bag a Hemingway brace concurrently. What that meant was that I should drink a Mojito In La Bodeguita Del Medio in Havana in Cuba and then dander to the famous El Floridita Bar and consume a Daiquiri. Both bars, are the bars where those exact drinks are rumoured to have been invented! Or at least made globally famous via Ernest Hemingway. A little background on where this wacaday wanderlust all stemmed from, from Whiteside to Maradona to Palin to Hemingway to Manic Street Preachers via my parents.
“Went To Cuba to meet Castro. Never got past sleepy Moscow” – Manic Street Preachers.
At Christmas in 1986, my parents then bought me a Concise Atlas of the World and at home we had two jigsaws. A jigsaw map of The British Isles and a jigsaw map of the world. By 1988, my attention turned to a Michael Palin adventure called Around The World In 80 Days. It was a television series inspired by the Jules Verne novel of the same name. In it, Michael Palin travelled around the world by land and sea, only – no flights. From the Reform Club in Pall Mall in London and back to the same place 80 days later. It was a classic television series and documentary and very successful, igniting within me some kind of fire and flair for backpacking the world. Later Michael Palin went on another adventure for a BBC documentary called The Hemingway Adventure. This was both a television series, and a book.
Some of that series was focused on Cuba and therefore on arrival in Cuba in December 2022, I decided to copy some of the Palin trail on the Hemingway quest. My stories on this have all been ridiculous that I sometimes cannot fathom them nor contemplate them or work out why it all happens. Basically I also copied Palin on my Indian adventure in 2016. I only went to Gujarat to do the Palin alcohol permit and tour Gandhi’s home city, Ahmedabad. Two years before that, in 2014 I was into my “Writer’s Lairs” during my Central America tour and I actually celebrated visiting my last country in mainland America (and unknown to me at the time – country 100!) with a beer at The Hemingway Inn in San Jose, Costa Rica. I was in Miller’s room – ridiculous as in the hotel that time was a fellow writer called Michael Miller, and I’d later meet a tourist called Miller that year and she would play a huge role in my journeys! All of those wacaday stories will be fit for a separate book of mine one day. I just cannot fathom the madness of all of these links sometimes.
What is El Floridita Bar?
It’s a corner bar in downtown Havana, Cuba’s capital. It’s a rather swanky joint. The bar is stylish, grand, upmarket and has an international ambience. It was rumoured to be Hemingway’s favourite bar in Havana and is also rumoured to be the birthplace of the famous Daiquiri cocktail, or indeed Hemingway’s adaptation of that cocktail.
Where is El Floridita Bar?
It’s in central Havana. It’s on a prominent corner so you cannot miss it! The exact address is here –
Obispo 557 Esquina a Monserrate esq. a Monserrate, Havana Vieja, Havanna 10100 Cuba
Phone: +53 7 8671300
What Is a Daiquiri?🍸
I have worked in many bars down the years, across 5 different countries and indeed I served up a few Daiquiris (they can come in all varieties – strawberry, banana etc). Whilst the recipe can differ A LOT, the classic as invented, consumed, sold and born here is –
So what’s a Hemingway Daiquiri / Papa Doble?
You see, Hemingway had his own style of Daiquiri which is now known in this bar as a Hemingway daiquiri (Hemingway Special) – or papa doble – two and a half jiggers of white rum, juice of two limes and half a grapefruit, six drops of maraschino liqueur, without sugar.
I tried both the “normal” Daiquiri and the Hemingway Special during my time in this bar. Both drinks cost 750 Cuban Pesos. There’s a slight black market in Cuba, but this is around £6 Northern Irish pounds (or $7 US Dollars). It’s not exactly cheap but again, totally worth it. In the past I also had a Bombay Sapphire in Bombay and a Singapore Sling in Singapore, not to mention a Guinness in Dublin…
My Daiquiri Experiences in El Floridita Bar in Havana, Cuba…
I kind of got overwhelmed and inspired here in such bars and this meant I actually visited El Floridita three times during my visit to Havana in December 2022. I got inspired to write poetry and blogs in here. I couldn’t help myself! However my first visit to El Floridita was with two Spanish girls I had met in an earlier bar just down the road. I met Paula and Laura in Monserrate Bar about 50 metres from El Floridita.
They were sitting down in there listening to the live Cuban music and I chatted to them. They told me of a money related scam they had witnessed earlier that day, or the day before. We have to keep our wits about us. As tourists in Cuba, we must be careful. I told them of my plans to go to the very bar where the Daiquiri Cocktail all began and that I was a travel writer on a wacaday Hemingway pilgrimage. By coincidence they were going to the front entrance to El Floridita as they were starting a walking tour there. On this trip I skipped walking tours and did my own thing. Infact I’ve been like that since the pandemic started.
On my other two visits here, I chatted to a Russian couple, and later a Chinese couple. I had a few Hemingways and wrote a lot, it was completely inspiring. Some of those notes will be in my future books! You can also admire the pictures on the walls, listen to live Cuban music and get your photo taken with Ernest Hemingway himself in the seat where he loved to write and drink. I’m doing the same. I’m a copyist.
Here are the details for visiting El Floridita Bar in Havana in Cuba:
Bar El Floridita, Obispo 557 Esquina a Monserrate esq. a Monserrate, Havana Vieja, Havanna 10100 Cuba
Phone: +53 7 8671300
Here are some videos from my visits to El Floridita Bar in Havana in Cuba:
Here is Michael Palin in Cuba on the Ernest Hemingway Trail including trying a Daiquiri in El Floridita: