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Letztes Update: 20. May 2024

Karte mit dem Floridita
Floridita Address: Avenida de Bélgica (Monserrate), La Habana Vieja

Hemingway’s Favorite Bar and the Birthplace of the Daiquiri

El Floridita in Havana is more than just a bar; it’s a true piece of Cuban culture and history. Established in 1817, it has been attracting tourists and locals alike for over 200 years. Today, it’s a popular spot for anyone wanting to soak up some Cuban atmosphere and explore a location frequented by Hemingway. Although it’s quite touristy nowadays, making it less of a place for regulars and more of a photo-op next to the bronze Hemingway statue (yes, a “statue” made of bronze 😁).

The Invention of the Daiquiri

El Floridita is renowned not just for its cocktails but also as the birthplace of the famous Daiquiri. The drink is said to have been first mixed here by bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, who later served it to Ernest Hemingway, a regular patron at El Floridita.

➡️ Find more details about the history of the Daiquiri and my collection of Daiquiri recipes!

Hemingway and El Floridita

Schild zur Straße des Floridita
One of the most famous bars in the world: Hemingway and Daiquiri! Photo by Carolina Alvarez, Pexels

Ernest Hemingway was one of the most well-known guests at El Floridita and spent a lot of time in the famous bar. In the 1950s, El Floridita was a meeting point for artists, writers, and other intellectuals who were drawn to Cuban culture and the lively atmosphere. Hemingway himself was an avid fisherman and loved spending time on the sea. It’s no wonder he felt at home at El Floridita, as it is located close to the harbor.

Hemingway-Plastik in El Floridita an der Bar

Hemingway was not only a passionate fisherman but also a dedicated drinker! He enjoyed the cocktails served at El Floridita. Bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert was known for mixing excellent Daiquiris, and Hemingway was a big fan of the Cuban cocktail. In fact, it’s said that Hemingway helped make the Daiquiri at El Floridita one of the world’s most famous drinks.

Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that “Little Florida” is still a popular destination for tourists wanting to follow in Hemingway’s footsteps and enjoy a Daiquiri at the bar where the famous writer drank so many.

Interestingly, Hemingway didn’t drink the classic Daiquiri but a sugar-free version now named the Hemingway Daiquiri, which Ribalaigua created especially for him. Papa Hemingway wanted to avoid gaining weight from the sugar 😉

Quick note: The icy drinks you often get served as Daiquiris are not the classic version but Frozen Daiquiris. A classic Daiquiri is a pretty strong drink served in a traditional cocktail glass. However, the Hemingway statue at El Floridita drinks a Frozen Daiquiri, not the original…

The Bar and Its Guests

Hemingway wasn’t the only famous guest to visit El Floridita. Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro and writers Graham Greene, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and John Dos Passos were also enthusiastic visitors. In fact, El Floridita is so famous that it’s one of the most photographed attractions in the Cuban capital.

But El Floridita is not just known for its famous guests; the bar itself has a rich history. Over the years, it has been renovated and remodeled multiple times, leading to its current status as a tourist hotspot. Wolfgang Stock of “Hemingways Welt” – a great German blog on everything on Hemingway – even refers to it as a “rum shack”!

Criticism of El Floridita

Not only does Wolfgang Stock say that El Floridita has become a kitschy tourist trap with little of its original charm and flair remaining, but others criticize the high prices for drinks and food compared to other bars in Havana, making it unaffordable for many Cubans. The service is often lacking as well.

There’s also criticism that El Floridita is now part of a large hotel complex, which has distanced it from the local community. Some argue it symbolizes the increasing commercialization and loss of Cuban culture and traditions. And for the Cuban state, it’s certainly a cash cow…

And about those renovations: I’ve heard that during Hemingway’s time, the bar was open, without bay windows, and the breeze, rather than air conditioning, kept guests cool. Hemingway liked this because he could make a quick exit if a bar brawl broke out. There’s not as much of Hemingway left in El Floridita as the marketing would have you believe…

Final Thoughts

Still, the next time you’re in Havana, you should definitely make a detour to El Floridita to get your own impression – and be sure to drink a Daiquiri!

If you’re interested in more about Hemingway and Havana, check out our other articles:

Saludos and Salud,
Cheers,
Dietmar

 

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