El Floridita is one of the most emblematic places in Cuba. Located on the corner of Obispo and Monserrate streets, it is possibly the most famous and representative bar-restaurant in the beautiful capital of the Caribbean. It stands out for its excellent cocktails and the exquisiteness of its dishes. They are mostly made with fish and seafood, cooked by our culinary masters, true experts in international and Cuban cuisine. Indeed, the Floridita has its own unique style.
Also known as “The cradle of the daiquirí”, it become even more famous when Hemingway himself immortalized it with his phrase.
My mojito in “La Bodeguita”, My daiquiri in “El Floridita”
Part of the history of Floridita
It opened its doors in 1817 with the name of “La Piña de Plata”. Then it was called “La Florida“. It is in 1910 when it extends towards Monserrat street as the area of the restaurant is added.
Constantine Ribalaigua Vert, of Catalan origin, begins to work there in 1914. First as a waiter and four years later becomes the owner. Some say that Constantine (known as “Constant”) was the one who first brought the daiquirí to Havana. They say that this drink was born in Cuba.
In the 1930s Hemingway moved few blocks from Floridita. He used to visit the place almost daily. He drank there his daiquirí, especially the variant “Papa Doble” (Double Pope) created in his honor. In Cuba, the writer was affectionately known as “Papa” (Pope). That’s where the name of the famous drink comes from. Even when he moved to Finca Vigía, located on the outskirts of Havana, he frequently traveled to the capital, only to drink his favorite daiquirí in what he called “the best bar in the world”.
Decoration and recognitions of Floridita
First, let me comment on the interior decoration of El Floridita. Designed in the 50’s Regency style, today it preserves all the splendor and exquisiteness of its beginnings. Then it’s filled in with other objects becoming a permanent homage to Hemingway. In the interiors, the photographs of the writer are exhibited together with his friends, always accompanied by a “Papa Doble”. In 1954 the bust is exhibited, made in bronze by a Cuban artist Fernando Boada. It has been located in what was then his favorite corner inside the bar. Finally the decoration is completed in 2003. A real size Hemingway sculpture is placed, made by José Villa Soberón. It depicts Hemingway leaning towards the bar and flanking the bench in which the novelist used to sit to have his favorite drink.
Soberón says that he represented him as the workers of the famous bar wanted. And the idea came from them. The image has been taken from the popular memory and from many photographs that today immortalize him in his usual pose, informally dressed with sandals.
On the other hand, I highlight the most significant awards. In 1953 the magazine “Esquire” would recognize the Floridita as one of the 7 most famous bars in the world. And in 1992 he was awarded the “Best of the Best Five Star Diamond Award” of the North American Academy of Gastronomic Sciences as the King of the Daiquiri and the most representative seafood restaurant.
Floridita's drinks and dishes, many honoring Hemingway
El Floridita is famous for its drinks. But also for its exquisite dishes. Now I will mention the most popular.
Among the main drinks there are: Havana Special, Cuba Libre, President, Mojito, Classic Daiquirí, Daiquirí Rebelde, Daiquiri Mulata, Daiquiri Floridita, Papa Hemingway.
Tourism in the bar-restaurant
Since the opening of Cuba to international tourism, there are numerous groups of tourists who visit El Floridita every day. Though, you may not always get to enjoy a delicious dinner or the typical drinks, including the refreshing daiquirí, specifically because of the crowds, yet it’s still worthwhile to enter and take few pictures in “El Floridita”. You can also get a photo next to the sculpture of Hemingway, who eventually gave to this splendid place even more fame than it already had.