Cuba libre!

August 28, 2015 12:00 PM

In July, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) announced plans to offer trips to Cuba as early as May  2016 under rules that allow licensed travel companies to bring in American visitors who comply with the Federal regulations for approved travel on the island. In this case, cultural, artistic, faith-based and humanitarian exchanges between Americans and Cubans. In addition, JetBlue Airlines said it will become the first large carrier to offer roundtrip charter flights between JFK International Airport and Havana.

But why wait? You can begin this spirited exchange now by appreciating two of Cuba’s contributions to cocktail culture. 

Nearly 200 years ago in 1817, La Pina de Plata opens in Havana, Cuba. One hundred years later, visitors frequenting Cuba via Florida convince the owner to change the name to El Florida, but the bar later adopts El Floridita. Famous for its cantineros (bartenders) and their then modern concoctions of fresh fruit and rum, the bar is credited to having created the frozen Daiquiri, which is still very popular throughout Cuba today. 

Between the years 1932 and 1939, Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway kept an apartment just a short walk away. As known for his works of literature, Hemingway was famous for his ability to imbibe. Quickly a favored regular of the bar, cantinero Constantino Ribalaigua named one of Hemingway’s favorite mixtures of rum after the author, calling the drink El Papa Doble. 

Hemingway, a diabetic, had Ribalaigua make his version of the Daiquiri with rum and lime, but using grapefruit juice and Maraschino liqueur instead of sugar. With Hemingway’s general focus on quantity over quality in regards to his tipples, the modern version of El Papa Doble, The Hemingway Daiquiri, has been updated to often include a bit of sugar to balance out the acidity of lime and grapefruit. 

Originally served to Hemingway over crushed ice, this modern version is also often strained into a stemmed glass such as a martini or a coupe. With the U.S. and Cuba’s recent work toward advancing ties, celebrate with my version of a Hemingway Daiquiri and another classic favorite, The Old Cuban.


About the Author

Hillary Choo is an award-winning mixologist, brand ambassador and former bartender. Hillary has received multiple recognitions, most recently Top Ten Mixologists in Miami by The Miami New Times in 2013 and Bartender of the Year Miami by Eater. Hillary is Portfolio Ambassador Miami for Bacardi USA. Follow Instagram at HillaryChoo. @ohillaryo