Talking About Aperitifs at SF Chefs August 5th
Making Vermouth: A Trip to Noilly Prat in Marseillan, France

The Bars of Havana, Cuba: A Pictorial Tour

While Cuba's two most famous bars are La Bodeguita del Medio and El Floridita, there are many more to see, including a former Trader Vic's that hasn't changed its decor since.

The Hotel Nacional

The Hotel Nacional stands out as a dramatic and luxurious hotel, though one set apart from the old section of Havana. The hotel has several bars, including one with a gallery of famous bar guests.

Hotel Nacional from Coco Taxi Havana Cuba
Hotel nacional cuba front_tn
Hotel nacional cuba bar with famous visitors on signs_tn
Hotel nacional cuba bar1_tn

This is a French-themed bar and restaurant, which was built as a copy of a bar in France.

Monsignor restaurant Havana Cuba sign_tn
Monsignor restaurant Havana Cuba3_tn
Monsignor restaurant Havana Cuba2_tn

A similarly-ornate bar/restaurant, this one with more of a Roman emperor theme.

Restaurante emperador havana cuba_tn
Restaurante emperador havana cuba bar_tn
Restaurante emperador havana cuba2_tn

This bar was a Trader Vic's only for a little bit before the Cuban revolution, and they kept the decor intact. Mai Tais here are even served in vintage Trader Vics mugs, though there are only a handful of them left.

Polinesio Tiki Bar Havana Former Trader Vics sign_tn
Polinesio Tiki Bar Havana Former Trader Vics entrance_tn
Polinesio Tiki Bar Havana Former Trader Vics bar_tn
Polinesio Tiki Bar Havana Former Trader Vics plush benches_tn
Polinesio Havana Cuba Former Trader Vics interior8_tn
Polinesio Tiki Bar Havana Former Trader Vics TV  mugs for mai tai_tn
La Bodeguita del Medio

Meaning "the little store in the middle (of the block)", this bar became famous when Ernest Hemingway announced where he drinks what: "My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita." The venue has grafitti-covered walls, a band in the corner, and as it is right in the heart of the tourist center of Old Havana, usually a crowd.

La bodeguita del medio bar havana cuba2_tn
La bodeguita del medio bar havana cuba outside_tn
Mojito at la bodeguita del medio bar havana cuba_tn

El Floridita

Visitors might be surprised to find this vintage bar putting Daiquiris through the blender, but it was actually at this bar where the frappe' style of Daiquiri was popularized, and in 1938 the bar was one of the first in the world to use blenders as part of drink preparation. Though a band plays throughout the day in the bar, El Floridita is a quieter bar than La Bodeguita, with more customers seated at chairs in one of two rooms. Patrons at the bar, however, get a view of the famous barmen (cantineros) balancing a touch of flair, a polite demeanor, and speed behind the stick.

El Floridita Havana Cuba_tn
El Floridita Havana Cuba2_tn

Henry Besant and Hemingway at El Floridita Havana Cuba3_tn
El Floridita Havana Cuba mass daiquiris_tn
Hemingway with Campers Glasses at El Flordita Havana Cuba_tn


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Beautiful, and obviously historic, bars...but generally how do the drinks hold up? If I keep running into long-bar-at-the-Raffles types of situations, perhaps I'll most enjoy historic drink spots through your pictures alone!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)