Bodeguita del medio

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Coordinates: 23°08′27″N 82°21′08″W / 23.140774°N 82.3522156°W / 23.140774; -82.3522156

Outside view of Bodeguita del Medio.

La Bodeguita del Medio is a typical restaurant-bar of Havana (Cuba). It is a famous tourist destination because of the personalities which have patronized it: Salvador Allende, the poet Pablo Neruda, the writer Ernest Hemingway, the artist Josignacio and many others. La Bodeguita lays claim to being the birthplace of the Mojito cocktail, prepared in the bar since its opening in 1942, although this is disputed. The rooms are full of curious objects, frames, photos, as well as the walls covered by signatures of famous or unknown customers, recounting the island’s past.

History[edit]

Inside view of Bodeguita del Medio.

In 1942, Angel Martinez bought out the small Bodega La Complaciente in Empedrado Street, in the old Havana district. He renamed the place Casa Martinez. Angel Martinez sold typical Cuban products and, from time to time, served dinner to the regulars. But mainly, the people who were found at the Casa Martinez, were there to have a drink with their friends, and savor a brand new cocktail called Mojito, made with rum, mint, sugar, lemon and club soda.

In 1949, the cook Silvia Torres aka “la china” prepared the food. Very quickly, the Casa Martinez became the centre of Havana’s cultural effervescence. Attracted by the bohemian charm of the place, writers, choreographers, musicians or journalists met there in a convivial ambiance. Encouraged by a need for restaurants in the Old Havana at the end of the 50s, the place started to serve food to everyone.

On April 26, 1950, the name Bodeguita del Medio[1] was officially adopted.

Name’s origin[edit]

Among the first clients was Felito Ayon, a charismatic editor, who rubbed shoulders with the avant-garde of Havana, and put Casa Martinez on the map amongst his acquaintances. It is the way Felito Ayon used to indicate the location of the Bodeguita to his friends, that made popular the expression Bodeguita del Medio, that was to become its official name in 1950.

Menu[edit]

The menu is typically Cuban: boiled rice, black beans, pork shank, manioc, pig shank roasted in its juice, pork rinds and toasted fried plantains.

Regulars[edit]

Numerous artists and celebrities were regulars of the Bodeguita : the poet Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gabriela Mistral, Agustín Lara, Nat King Cole, Marlene Dietrich, Nicolás Guillén and Ernest Hemingway. “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita” can still be read on the wall today, in Hemingway's handwriting.[2]

1997 bomb[edit]

In September 1997 a bomb went off in the Bodeguita as part of a bombing campaign against tourist spots that injured dozens and killed the Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo.

While no-one was killed in the Bodeguita, dozens were severely injured. Remarkably just moments before the explosion, the barman had agreed to have his picture taken with a tourist who later turned out to be Ernesto Cruz Leon, the Salvadorian mercenary arrested and convicted for planting the bomb.[3]

La Bodeguita worldwide[edit]

Today,[when?] there are establishments of the restaurant in other places of the world such as Mexico, the United States, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia and Lebanon. In Spain, a company has opened four Bodeguitas del Medio, perfect replicas of the original Cuban restaurant. Today,[when?] tourists and locals continue to go to La Bodeguita del Medio to drink the authentic Cuban mojito.[4][citation needed]

References[edit]

External links[edit]