Thanks to U.S. President Barack Obama’s overtures to the communist-run country, Cuba is climbing to the top of must-visit destination lists — and all the more so if you happen to be a connoisseur of fine food and drink. Known for its rum, the country has originated its fair share of cocktails, from the forever-refreshing mojito to the Cuba Libre. The future of the island nation, though, can be found in Havana where these upstart restaurant bars are taking the country’s strong cocktail legacy to an exciting new level.
A simultaneously lively and romantic tapas spot that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hemingway novel, the real reason to visit is the restaurant’s superb Ron Collins, a twist on the venerable Tom Collins but with … you guessed it, rum.
Calle 17 No. 809 altos e/ 2 y 4, +53 7 8312433
The ceviche and tapas are local favourites at this cozy spot in Old Havana by siblings Jose Carlos and Julio Imperatori, but the true stars can be found at the bar. Ccocktail artisans here craft complex concoctions with local rum. There’s art behind both the construction of these layered drinks — strips of local fruit fill the glasses — and the finished product, which is a boozy kick to your backside. Be sure to ask for anything with limes: You can’t go wrong with one of 304’s refreshing mojitos.
O’Reilly 304, +53 5 2644725
The historic seafood and booze spot across from Havana’s National Museum of Fine Arts is where Ernest Hemingway whiled away many hours. But never mind the history, this is where you’ll want to soak up a few of the joint’s famed daiquiris.
Obispo No. 557 esq. A Monserrate, +53 7 8671299
It may look as if the restaurant is in a rundown building, but inside it’s beautifully bohemian, with a fantastic rooftop bar. It’s also one of the hottest spots in town. Dine on suckling pig and watermelon soup, and indulge in the cocktail menu, which is spiked heavily with Havana Club — including La Tomatina, which combines Havana Club, sugar, lemon juice, tomato, white Lillet and striped nutmeg, and La Rosa Blanca, Havana Club, sugar, lemon juice, ice, Tio Pepe and cloves.
Concordia No.418, +53 7 8669047