Cuban cocktails are famous worldwide, and when you are visiting Cuba the traditional rum based cocktails, offer the perfect refreshment on hot sunny days.
For centuries some of the world’s finest rums and “aguardientes” (brandy) have been produced in Cuba.
Add to this a culture where the art of creating cocktails is considered a craft and the fact that Cuba is home to tropical fruits, and its no surprise that some of the best cocktails in the world were born on the island.
Learn how to make Cuban cocktails
If you want to learn how to make cocktails while in you are in Havana sign up for a cocktail masterclass. Cocktail classes are a popular thing to do for tourists in Cuba.
We highly recommend the Mixology run by Ariel, who is one of the most prominent connoisseurs of Cuban culinary life. He has hundreds of reviews on Airbnb, with an average of 4.9/5 stars. He is a true cocktail expert, knowing how to prepare hundreds of different cocktails, from the canchanchara to the piña colada.
If you use the promo code whyn-otcu you will get a discount.
In any case, here is a list of famous Cuban cocktails you have to try no matter what!
Number five on The World’s Best-Selling Classic Cocktails 2018 (third in 2017). It is the most ordered rum drink in the world’s best bars, according the ranking by Drinks International.
This cooling drink was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourites. The American writer even had his own sugarless version with double-rum at Floridita, one of his favorite bars in Havana. Originally, it was created by workers of a mine near Santiago de Cuba back in the 19th century. Somehow the recipe made its way to Havana where it was perfected by bartenders at Floridita. This is where the Daiquirí turned into a world class cocktail. More than a century later, Floridita is still the place to go for the best daiquirí on the planet. There are several variations of the drink.
Ingredients: 1 teaspoon of white sugar / 5 drops of maraschino liquor/ 7.5 ml of lemon juice (or half a lemon) / 45 ml of silver dry rum (Mulata or Havana Club) / Ice.
Preparation: Pour ingredients into a blender. Add maraschino and ice. Blend on high speed and pour rum slowly. Strain in a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of lemon.
Watching the bartender prepare the drink is part of the experience of enjoying a cocktail. The final mix will be the result of his ability to blend the right ingredients in the right proportions. Cuban historians and bartenders say that the origins of the Mojito date to the 16th century, when an English corsair mixed water, rum, sugar and herbs to escape from high temperatures and diseases while sailing Cuban waters. The drink grew popular among Americans travelling to Cuba during Prohibition in the 1920s.
Almost all restaurants and bars will serve this classic drink, but most guides will tell you to head to La Bodeguita del Medio (although some people strongly disagree) The ambience and bartenders are also excellent in new trendy places such as Chanchullera near El Capitolio.
Ingredients: 1 teaspoon of white sugar / 7.5 ml of lemon juice / 45 ml of Havana Club Silver Dry / 150 ml of soda water / Spearmint / Ice
Preparation: Mix sugar and lemon on a highball glass, and then add spearmint and crush it using a muddler. Add silver dry rum and ice cubes, and then soda water. Garnish with a spearmint sprig.
Number 50 on The World’s Best-Selling Classic Cocktails 2018 (33rd in 2017). It is perhaps the easiest Cuban cocktail to prepare. Cubans love mixing it at parties, generally adding extra rum. Tradition says it was first served at a Habana’s bar around 1900.
You can find Cuba Libre at any bar in Havana. A good spot to try it is Bar Roma, on the roof of a building at La Habana Vieja where you can listen and dance to various genres of music including electronic, jazz and blues, while enjoying a beautiful view of Havana at night.
Ingredients: 50 ml of Havana Club Añejo Especial or rum Mulata Añejo Blanco / 100 ml of coca cola or Cuban cola soft drink / A few drops of lemon juice / Ice
Preparation: Fill a glass with ice cubes, pour rum and cola, add some drops of lemon and one or two slices of lemon.
Cubanito is one of the lesser known classic cocktails, and is the Cuban version of Bloody Mary. It is amazingly refreshing and delivers an interesting contrast of tastes between salty tomato, hot sauce, acid lemon and dry rum flavours. In many restaurants it is recommended as an aperitif. Many Cubans prefer to drink it without worcestershire sauce due to its spicyness, but lemon is a must. Try it at Don Eduardo Alegre, with a view to the colonial Plaza Vieja, Old Havana. You can also find it at trendy places like Bar Encuentros (112 Línea street, El Vedado), or Bar Fusión (41 and 30 streets, Miramar), where the cocktail list offers a hundred drinks.
Ingredients: 1 ½ ounce of silver dry, Mulata Añejo Blanco / 1 ½ ounce of lemon juice / 5 ounces of tomato juice / 1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce / Hot sauce / Salt / Ice
Preparation: Mix lemon, worcestershire sauce, salt and hot sauce on a highball glass, then pour silver dry rum and tomato juice. Add ice cubes and garnish with a slice of lemon.
Classic and elegant, Mary Pickford is one of many Cuban cocktails linked to celebrities. It is claimed that it was created by Eddie Woelke, an American bartender who settled in Havana during Prohibition, while the famous actress Mary Pickford was filming a movie in town in the late twenties.
Some of the best hotels to enjoy this classic drink are Hotel Nacional (El Vedado), Santa Isabel (Old Havana) or the brand-new and luxurious Packard. Well established “paladares” like San Cristóbal (Centro Habana, visited by Barack Obama and family) and classic famous bars like Sloppy Joe’s, with its 18-metre-long bar, near Paseo del Prado also serve this cocktail. Of course, there is always the choice to explore new and trendy places like Fusión Bar or Edén Bar Lounge.
Ingredients: 7.5 ml of grenadine / 45 ml of pineapple juice / 45 ml of silver dry rum / 1 teaspoon of maraschino / Ice
Preparation: Shake ingredients and ice on a cocktail shaker. Add maraschino. It is served on a high cocktail glass, garnished with a pineapple slice.