CUBA'S SIX BEST DRINKS
SIX DRINKS YOU MUST TRY IN CUBA!
You won’t find guarapo in any hotel or bar in Havana, but if you make your way into the cities neighborhoods, where you’ll probably be the only foreigner, you will find the popular guaraperas. At the guaraperas the drink is prepared before you as sugar cane stalks are pushed into homemade, rustic machines that extract the juice and nectar, which are then strained and poured over crushed ice. That’s it! Simple and delicious! Rico, rico, guarapo! CUBAN MOJITO
The famous Cuba mojito is the mixture of 3-year-old Cuban rum, lime juice, sugar, and fresh yerba buena. The taste of a good mojito will leave a lasting impression and that’s because of the secrets of yerba buena (mint). Some say it’s an aphrodisiac, others that it helps maintain mental health. I think it has a great aroma and love that little kick that it gives a mojito. I believe the best mojito in Havana is prepared the Mafia Bar and the Hall of Fame of the Hotel Nacional, but that’s a whole other blog!
I tired several times but couldn’t get her to tell me her secret. Carmen would never tell! But yesterday I discovered her secret! Who is Carmen? She is the bartender at one of the bars on Varadero’s First Avenue, which runs parallel and next to the beach resorts beaches. I always have a Piña Colada when I’m there, and I guarantee it is the best Piña Colada you have ever had. You can have it with alcohol or virgin, either way it’s good, but I like it with alcohol. It is made with coconut water, pineapple juice, a bit of salt and cinnamon, and Carmen’s secret ingredient. A tiny bit of nutmeg. Enjoy!
Cuba Libre is just a mix of cola and rum! We also call it cubata in Havana. The history of this drink dates to the early twentieth-century. A soldier of the era told the story, that in 1902 when U.S. and Cuban troops were fighting together against the Spanish during Cuba’s second War of Independence (1895-1898) an American captain entered a bar in Old Havana and ordered Bacardi and Coca-Cola. Other soldiers at the bar on R&R were curious about the drink and ordered a round for the house. The drink was an instant hit and by the third round a soldier stood up and toasted to “Cuba Libre!”
There are different versions to the story of the origin of the daiquiri. They all coincide that the birthplace of this refreshing drink was the eastern part of Cuba. It was then introduced to Havana by acclaimed Spanish barman Emilio Gonzalez, who gave the recipe to Don Constante, owner of the famed Floridita Bar in Old Havana. This later became one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite haunts in Havana and the daiquiri one of his preferred Cuban cocktails. After discovering that he had diabetes the famous author asked that his daiquiri be prepared without sugar but double the usual amount of alcohol. That is how the daiquiri salvaje or the daiquiri a lo Papa was born. It makes frequent appearances in movies and TV, like The Godfather and Futurama, and is mentioned in books like Islands in the Stream. What more can I say! Have a daiquiri today!
TROPICAL FRUIT JUICE
One of these will always be accessible while you are in Cuba. Whether it’s mango, papaya or pineapple, every kiosk, bar and cafeteria will have one of them freshly squeezed. Don’t miss out!
By Dina GomGar