The quote falsely attributed to Hemingway by a cunning bartender at the Bodeguita has put both of these bars firmly on the tourist map. The quote may be false, but it does accurately represents Papa's drinking habits and these are essential stops on the Hemmingway trail.
Nobel Prize winning American writer Ernest Hemingway was a regular visitor to Havana in the 20's and 30's and lived here from 1939 to 1960 he was a regular visitor to Havana's old town where he spent his days bar crawling, the Bodeguita was where he would spend the days drinking with the elite of Havana's cultural life who would gather here. As the sun set he would move on to the Floridita where his habit of ordering double daiquiri's earned him the nickname Papa Dobles ("Father Doubles"). Both bars are now crowded with tourists attempting to follow in the footsteps of this American icon.
La Bodeguita del Medio ("Little Store in the Middle of the Block") retains much of its bohemian speak-easy feel that doubtless made it appeal to Papa. The tiny bar is crowded with tourists sipping at their $4 mojitos amid the graffiti covered walls of the bar, with signatures from the great and the good including Graham Greene, Errol Flynn, Harry Belafonte, Nat King Cole and Fidel Castro. The mojito (rum, lemon juice, sugar, soda, mint leaf and ice) is Havana's most popular cocktail and is drunk throughout the day seemingly by the entire population of Havana. It is an extremely refreshing way to take your rum.
The far more austere El Floridita is dimly lit and comes complete with red jacketed staff and crushed velour soft furnishings. It is once again crowded with tourists but the sumptuous interiors make it a quiet and relaxing place to kick back and soak up the atmosphere in the early evenings although at $6 a drink it's an expensive place to get drunk. The daiquiri (rum, lime juice, sugar and crushed ice) was originally developed in the Oriente region of Cuba on the southern tip of the island but it was here at the Floridita that it was perfected, thanks to the introduction of an electric blender that allowed the ice to be crushed.
These two bars in the heart of Havana's old town make very useful stopping off points as you wander around the sights of the old colonial architecture, but their high prices mean that they are not places you are going to stick around for long and certainly not somewhere to take a meal.
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Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom
January 8, 2005
After you've settled in, a woman comes into the bar with a basket containing a selection of B del M merchandise--T-shirts, ashtrays, mugs, etc., all fairly reasonable values, but if you are short on cash, go for the matches at only 10 cents!
Through the back is another room, this time with tables and chairs, where meals are served--all the usual comida Criolla typical of Cuba. Can't comment on prices or food, as we did not eat here, though there were some locals dining, which would indicate it's probably not bad at all.
The most eye-catching thing about the B del M is the wall as you enter, which is covered with the signatures of previous visitors, famous and not-so-famous. Why not add yours?
From journal Havana, A Great Time!
April 14, 2002
From journal Havana Ball
new york, New York
June 6, 2000
From journal Americans in Cuba