World's Most Iconic Bars, Part 4

El Floridita, Havana

There are only a few bars in the world that can rightfully claim to be the birthplace of a global cocktail phenomenon, and El Floridita in Havana, Cuba, is one of them. Not only has the bar been host to dozens of the world's most notable writers, celebrities, and politicians, it's also a landmark that is credited with the creation of the world's first daiquiri.

El Floridita has been in business for more than 200 years and has gained worldwide renown for numerous reasons, not the least of which was its creation of one of the world's most popular and enduring cocktails. It first gained a huge following and worldwide recognition during Prohibition, when many influential Americans flocked to Cuba to enjoy the indulgences of alcohol.

The bar, originally named "La Piña de Plata," (The Silver Pineapple) first opened in 1817 on a street corner in Havana. It remains there to this day.

In 1914, an immigrant from Spain named Constantino Ribalaigua Vert began working as a cantinero (bartender) at the Floridita. By 1918, after only four years working behind the bar, Constante (as he was called by regulars) was in a position to buy the place, which he did.

Constante loved to experiment with ways to serve his patrons rum, the national spirit of Cuba. In 1931, he created what is commonly acknowledged to be the world's first daiquiri. As time went on, Constante made his frozen cocoction with all kinds of fruit juices—everything from mango to pineapple to strawberry and banana.

One of the most famous Americans to inhabit the bar at El Floridita was writer Ernest Hemingway, who was nicknamed "Papa Doble" for his prodigious talent at downing double-strength daiquiris. In fact, Hemingway, who started frequenting the bar in 1932, inspired the bartenders to create a drink just for him, now known as the "Hemingway Daiquiri." This non-frozen riff doubled the rum in the original recipe and did away with the added sugar.

El Floridita has won much acclaim over its long history and has been recognized by countless magazines and travel authorities as the most "Iconic Bar in the World," and the "Best Bar in the World." In 1992, El Floridita won the highly coveted "Five Star Diamond" award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.

Want to drink like an ex-pat in Havana? Here's your recipe:

Hemingway Daiquiri

  • In a shaker with ice combine:
    • 2 ounces white rum
    • 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
    • 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
    • 1/2 ounce grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
    • Garnish: lime wheel
  • Shake until well-chilled and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Note: You can also make a frozen version by combining all the ingredients in a blender with chipped ice.