Cuba has a rare communion with cocktails. On coming to the tropics, refusal to enjoy a refreshing drink made of ice and rum as its main ingredients, is not likely. Who knows…that might be the reason why nowadays there are so many bars in Havana and other parts of Cuba, a “must stop” for visitors. Opening their doors at different schedules day and night they offer the most enigmatic cocktails in their beverages´ listings.
For many Cuba is the Island of Rum but also of cocktails, because Cubans are like a heavenly mix; it is no secret a good cocktail promotes human amiability, acting as rapprochement among people whether acquainted or not, without harming the cultural elements defining our nature. Every Cuban cocktail has its distinctive seal: a divine mix of tropical and Caribbean flavors, colors and aromas
Mastering the mix of liquors and fruit juices as well as other substances, Cuban bartenders better known as “cantineros”, provide flavor and beauty to the final drink since the beginning of times. Other fruit and vegetable aperitifs or non-alcoholic cocktails are also a blessing offsetting our traditional heat. As the story goes, the tradition goes back to the Wars of Independence peaking when the artificial ice industry appeared in the United States around 1870.
There is no doubt a wise selection of tropical fruits and at the same time owning the best rum in the world contributed to the development of these drinks. The famous Cuba Libre, Daiquirí, Mojito, Presidente and Canchánchara were already a delight more than a century ago; today´s challenge consists in the preservation of the flavor in face of new trends and techniques in the cocktail world. Even though 3 of the 10 best known cocktails worldwide are Cuban (mojito, daiquiri and Cuba Libre) bartenders aim to position many more; their creativity never stops, thus the birth of new drinks as Tropicana Night, Amanda or Sevilla Tropical.
Cuban bars outstand for their elegance, bartender´s grace and skills and to some extent the wide variety of bottles – some of them legendary and almost extinct. Walking along Havana streets, or any other city for that matter there is always a bar at hand catching our attention; not only because Cubans always have a good reason to celebrate but because accompanying the issue with a cocktail or a good Cuban rum turns the occasion into a party for the body and spirit as well.
There is an ongoing evolvement of bars and cocktails in the Island that goes beyond our borders with a highly accredited international acceptance and that is why this year 2018 Cuba was awarded the title of Iberoamerican Cocktail Capital; in the words of Rafael Anson: “Havana, as every great cocktail has art, magic and fantasy. This is precisely its distinguishing award today”.
Maybe because Havana is fashionable millions of tourists arrive every year to this Caribbean Archipelago, one of its main attractions being a bohemian life: a bar where the dexterity of the barman and the aroma of a superb cocktail catches the visitor´s attention, reason enough to rush upon their arrival seeking the many secrets revealed from bar to bar and through music, bartenders´ stories or meetings with old and new friends.
Bars mix history, tradition and novel trends: the state of the art decoration and design of new private sector bars (“Mío y Tuyo”, “Corner Café”, “King Bar”, “Espacios”, or “Encuentros”) perfectly blend with traditional ones (“Floridita, Sloppy Joe´s”, “La Bodeguita del Medio”) and enclose much more than a cocktail legend, opening Cuba to visitors through its history, culture and its people.
One will always enhance the experience of walking along Havana streets with its columns and doorways, admiring its incredible glass/ grill works and breathing the tropical aroma, with a good cocktail, one of those to be enjoyed around the corner, surprising in their exquisite flavor and presentation.