Havana, Cuba Part 2: Cars, Cigars & Cocktails – A Look Into Cuba’s Vintage Aesthetic & Cocktail Culture
Mojitos have been my drink of choice pretty much since college when a friend turned me into a rum fan. When Jared and I booked our cruise to Cuba, I knew I would get to check “drink authentic Cuban mojito in Havana” off my bucket list. AND IT WAS MAGICAL! It exceeded my expectations and I can honestly say I have never had a drink so delicious (and strong). This mojito was the REAL DEAL and has inspired me to share this post with a little bit of what we learned and experience in the Cuban culture.
Cuba’s Cocktail Culture
From the 1920’s to the late 50’s, Cuba’s Cocktail Culture was a site of glamour, hospitality and romance. The image we have of this movement comes from a lot of the writings of Ernest Hemingway where he highlights the 3 main drinks that Cuba has become known for:
- Cuba Libre
While you can find more contemporary cocktails in the hotels, bars and restaurants, we saw that Cuba is striving to protect their classic cocktails and traditions surrounding the culinary arts. Many tourists arrive in Cuba with the idea of the glamourized cocktail culture that we read about and see photos of from previous decades. I was a bit worried that it would like any experience I could easily have here in Atlanta at a specialty bar, but boy was I wrong.. Havana delivered! With every sip of the mojito at the National Hotel, I felt the pride that Cuba puts into their beloved classics.
Having an authentic mojito or other classic cocktail in Havana is an experience all in it’s own. When visiting Cuba, I want to highly recommend that you carve time out of your trip to soak in the antiquity and hospitality that Cuba has to offer when it comes to their expert cocktail making. Havana is a cocktail mecca and I can assure you will receive nothing but authenticity and REAL local ingredients.
Pro Tip: Bring home some bottles of rum to enjoy a little bit of Cuba back in the States. They also make great souvenirs for friends and family. You can find me at my bar cart trying to recreate this refreshing glass of heaven for the summer!
Montecristo’s, Romeo y Julieta’s & Cohiba’s – Oh My!
(Those are actually the 3 types that Jared brought home!)
It’s no mystery that Cuba is the holy grail of tobacco. But what a lot of people don’t know is the rich history behind the art of the planting and hand-rolling.
What really stuck with me about the cigar culture in Cuba was something that our tour guide told us. We know that Cuban cigars are still today a rare luxury for Americans. But for most Cuban’s, the access is even more scarce due to their low government salary.
Still there is something so special about the time and effort that goes into each hand-rolled cigar. The allure of Cuba’s cigar culture is a revered enjoyment all around the world and will forever be ingrained in Cuban culture.
We personally did not visit the cigar factory just outside of town, but some other cruisers that we spoke to did and really enjoyed their experience. Just know that if you do visit Cuba, you can do a grand tour of the factory and see first-hand how the cigars are produce and rolled. How cool is that?!
Pro Tip: You can only bring up to 200 cigars back to the United States according to U.S. customs regulations. We brought home several for our friends and family. And of course, Jared has kept several for his growing collection. Let’s just say we had to buy Jared his own humidor upon our return. For those interested, I will link it here: Mantello 25-50 Cigar Desktop Humidor Humidifier Glasstop w/Tray
If you haven’t check out my first post about our Classic Car Tour, you can check it our here!
I hope you enjoyed this brief insight into only a small portion of the culture in Cuba. And I hope you feel inspired to immerse yourself into all they have to offer! What are you looking forward to the most when visiting Cuba?
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