Floridita

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El Floridita

Coordinates: 23°08′14″N 82°21′26″W / 23.137317°N 82.357324°W / 23.137317; -82.357324 Floridita (Spanish pronunciation: [floɾiˈðita]) or El Floridita is an historic fish restaurant and cocktail bar in the older part of Havana (La Habana Vieja), Cuba. It lies at the end of Calle Obispo (Bishop Street), across Monserrate Street from the The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana). The establishment is famous for its daiquiris and for having been one of the favourite hangouts of Ernest Hemingway in Havana.

History[edit]

El Floridita bar. The bar "patron" at center, below the wall-mounted photo, is a life-sized bronze statue of Ernest Hemingway

It opened in 1817 with the name "La Piña de Plata" (English: The Silver Pineapple) in the place it still occupies, on the corner of Obispo and Monserrate streets. Almost 100 years later, the large number of North American tourists persuaded the owner to change the name to "El Florida", but with time it became popularly known as "El Floridita".[1][2]

Ernest and Mary Hemingway with Spencer Tracy at the bar corner in El Floridita, Havana, Cuba, ca. 1955. The window behind Hemingway is the one showing in the modern photo above.
2003 statue of Ernest Hemingway by José Villa Soberón inside El Floridita bar, at the wall end of the bar (see photo at beginning of article). A photograph of Hemingway awarding Fidel Castro a prize in a fishing contest in May 1960 (almost a year and a half after the Cuban revolution) adorns the wall behind the statue.

In 1914, the Catalan immigrant Constantino Ribalaigua Vert started working in the bar as cantinero (bartender). Constantino, nicknamed Constante, became the owner in 1918. Constante is credited for inventing the frozen daiquiri in the early 1930s, a drink that became linked to the fame of the place, whose motto is now "la cuna del daiquiri" (the cradle of the daiquiri). The bar became a school of highly skilled cantineros (bartenders) specialised in cocktails prepared with fresh fruit juices and rum, whose traditions are still preserved by the disciples of Constante.[2]

"My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita.

Ernest Hemingway

The Nobel Prize-winning American writer Ernest Hemingway frequented the bar, which is at the end of Calle Obispo (Bishop Street), a short walk from the Hotel Ambos Mundos where Hemingway maintained a room from 1932–1939. Hemingway's children also noted that in the early 1940s Hemingway and his wife "Mary" (Martha Gellhorn) continued to drive from their house outside Havana (Finca Vigía) to the Floridita for drinks.[3] The establishment today contains many noticeable memorabilia of the author, with photographs, a bust and, more recently (2003), a life-size bronze statue at the end of the bar near the wall, sculpted by the Cuban artist José Villa Soberón.

Hemingway wasn't the only famous customer of the bar.[4] The establishment was frequented by many generations of Cuban and foreign intellectuals and artists. Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos and Graham Greene, the British novelist who wrote Our Man in Havana, were also frequent customers.

The restaurant of El Floridita

The place still preserves much of the atmosphere of the 1940s and 1950s, with the red coats of the bartenders matching the Regency style decoration that dates from the 1950s, although now most of its customers are occasional tourists. Besides the cocktails, the place is reputed[by whom?] for the (expensive) sea food.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Floridita's story". www.floridita-cuba.com (in Spanish). Bar – Restaurante Floridita. Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Floridita's story". www.elfloridita.net. Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  3. ^ Forward to The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigía Edition, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987, ISBN 0-684-84332-3. See also The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway.
  4. ^ http://stockpress.de/2011/02/19/hemingway-trinkt-acht-daiquiris-in-el-floridita/ Hemingway and friends drink their Daiquiri in El Floridita – article in German

External links[edit]