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Havana: the city that never sleepsThe Old Colonial Havana is world-renowned for being a city that does not sleep, wrapping both the local and the traveler in its unique experiences, in its frenzied magic, from which it is impossible to abstract.
For this reason, the culture of bars in Havana is so deep rooted, and it is almost part of the idiosyncrasy of the habanero. The story speaks for itself!It was on the corner of Obispo and Monserrate streets, at the bar El Floridita, where famous barman called Constantino prepared in Cuba his first daiquirí. Another popular drink, invented by pirate Francis Drake, was tranding in Havana's canteens until mid 19th century: the Drake, which was prepared with sugar cane brandy, lemon and mint. Later, with the use of rum, it began to be called mojito, served until these days in the famous Bodeguita del Medio. Or classic bar Sloppy Joe´s , with the largest bar in Cuba, where countless bartenders turned it into a landmark of Cuban cocktails. We have discovered these old photos of the book about Floridita from year 1939 and we find it interesting to share with you a photograph of the El Floridita bar, and two original recipes for Mojito and Daiquirí.
Top 5 restaurants with the coolest rooftops in HabanaSo that you can enjoy like a local when you go out for drinks (what Cubans call “echarse unos buche” or “tomarse unos tragos”) we propose a route through 5 bars/restaurants that you cannot miss in your trips to Cuba. Open air terraces,rooftops, with very modern concepts, although nestled in old buildings, where you can delight in the wonderful views and the city atmosphere, while, if you dare, smoke a good Cuban cigar after a creole lunch, watching a sunset, or under the moonlight. These private bars / restaurants, known in Cuba as paladares, are not only recommended for the excellence of their cocktails, since there you can also taste creole recipes, elaborate dishes, or tapas to pair with drinks. All of them are part of the avant-garde Cuban cuisine, which seeks to incorporate new flavors and aromas to the most traditional dishes, without losing the pure Cuban flavour. And if you also want to immerse yourself in the seductive and picturesque Havana nightlife, led by a local guide, we recommend the guided tour Habana after dark.
1 Jesús María #20
At # 20 of a picturesque street in Old Havana lies the first restaurant on our route, Jesús María 20. As part of the community project San Isidro: Art District- whose purpose is to revive both the urban and cultural level of the area, and today it also stands as an open three-story gallery in which colorful graffitis blend in with good music, delicious cuisine and excellent drinks, to create one of the most carefree and cool restaurants spots in the city.Delight yourself with one of their spectacular passion fruit daiquiris, very refreshing and tasty; You can accompany them with some of their most popular tapas: ceviche and tortilla chips. Its homemade spicy-sweet and sour sauce will blow your mind! Watching a sunset from this rooftop, while listening to the best cuban jazz live, is a unique experience.
2 El del Frente
Bar - restaurant El del Frente is no ordinary bar. Its New York vibe contrasts harmoniously with its art-deco style decoration, and with the bustle of O'Reilly Street, where it is located, making it an eclectic universe in which we lose track of time and space, and where we just we want - "otro trago, cantinero!" (another drink, bartender!!!).Seeing how some of the best daiquiris, mojitos and gin & tonics in the city are prepared is a true spectacle; it is a moving bar, with dynamism, with swing, as is the ambiance here. Although every cocktail is a true work of art that treats your taste and tips our senses, we especially recommend the Michelada and the Bloody Mary. You can pair them with the crunchy banana chips (chicharritas) with its homemade dip.
3 Al Carbón
Surely you have already heard this name ... because this restaurant, although with a different concept, is also the creation of Iván & Justo - worldwide knwon after the kings of Spain, Felipe and Letizia, chose Al Carbón for one of their lunches in Havana, in November 2019.It is located in an old mansion from the 18th century, right on the corner of Chacón and Aguacate streets. Now Al Carbón has a wonderfully cozy terrace. Renowned for its delicious roast suckling pig, its Creole ajiaco, or its crab salad. The restaurant offers good music on its rooftop, excellent views of the Museum of the Revolution or the Church of Santo Ángel Custodio. You can also enjoy exceptionally prepared drinks, such as Sórpréndeme, a special cocktail that you can only enjoy here. It is prepared with honey, ginger, orange juice, Havana Club 7 years, drops of angostura and the special touch of smoking. Come over here to enjoy this delicious drink in a cool atmosphere , and surrounded by stunning historical architecture of Havana.
4 La Guarida
If you haven't watched famous cuban film Fresa y Chocolate (1993), it's about time! There you go! another extra suggestion to make the most of this place.This is the most globally famous cuban "paladar", located in a property on Concordia street, where the movie we said before was filmed. It boasts the majesty of yesteryear, mixed with the charm of decadence that the 90's gave to this 1917 mansion. It also has a natural elegance in its interior spaces. For all this, it is considered a jewel. The rooftop of La Guarida was opened in 2014, to offer a different concept from the gourmet space, which is located on the ground floor. It makes the most of the 360º view of Centro Habana, so here, from a comfortable sofa in the lounge area, you can enjoy the vibes of this place. In it, stars like Madonna, Robert De Niro or Rihanna have tasted innovative cocktails…. Do not miss the famous and sensational drink of the house: La Mansión (prepared with lemon juice, sugar syrup, pineapple, peach, mint leaves, ground pepper and… Havana Club 7 years!) Ideal rooftop to take beautiful and original photos!
5 El Cocinero
In the landscape of modern Havana an unmistakable symbol stands out. We are taling about the chimney of El Cocinero, the bar-restaurant number 5 of our route, which is located in what was formerly an oil factory.As a coincidence, it lies right next to the Cuban Art Factory (FAC). So, you can think about combining this immense gallery, where the best and shining of national contemporary art is exhibited, with the electrifying rooftop of El cocinero. You will listen to pop rhythms and housemusic, surrounded by young people who go out to have fun and enjoy the Havana night to the fullest. You will find yourself very comfortable on such a chic rooftop .. A drink that we love about this place, and that we want to share especially with you is Dark & Stormy, which has Havana Club 7-year rum, ginger syrup, lemon juice, mint and a splash of tonic water. Ideal to pair with their baked dumplings, lamb tacos, charcoal-grilled pork ribs or with the snack of the day.
Do you want to travel to Cuba?
So, if you are thinking about organizing a trip to Cuba , on your own or in one of our tailor made trips to Cuba we will craft with pleasure and care in our travel agency specialized in Cuba, don't miss any of our recommendations to travel to Cuba without complications, we suggest you spend at least 10 days in Cuba so as not to miss the essentials, and above all, don't forget to visit these five terraces where the Havana breeze –mixed with the notes of the best live music, or with traditional songs from the Cuban vitrola– will make you fall in love with the vibe of this city, as if you were living an endless honeymoon in Cuba.Take care of yourselves!
It may be of your interest:
- 5 arty restaurants in Cuba that will surprise you
- The best restaurants in Havana with signature fusion cuisine
- The best restaurants in Havana for a good, nice and cheap bite
- Classic famous bars in Havana
- The LGBTQ revolution in Cuba: spots in Havana for gay friendly tourism
- Top custom private long weekend in Havana
- Visit Cuba: top colonial cities
Article written by Gabriela Rodríguez, independent Cuban guide.
Video produced and edited by Javier Ernesto Hernández-López.0