In 1932 the American novelist fished swordfish on board the “Anita” on the open sea of the north coast of Cuba. The same year, he settled at Ambos Mundos hotel on number 153 of Obispo Street. He enjoyed the most beautiful view of the city and the bay.

 This place, bathed in the breeze from the sea, was ideal for writing. He began the final version of his work, “For Whom the Bells Toll”, two hundred meters from this bar which was to become one of the most famous in the world, largely thanks to the ritual and almost daily presence, at its bar, of the future Nobel Prize. During all of this period, and until the end of his life, Hemingway resided in Havana. It’s at this time that he discovered the Floridita and its Daïquiri. 

One morning, Hemingway was walking in Obispo Street, one of the busiest streets in Havana, where both the Floridita and the Ambos Mundos Hotel are located. Coming to the corner of Obispo and Monserrate Streets, he couldn’t resist the charm of the Floridita, which called him with its munificent bar of precious hard wood. The open doors invited him to come in.

 Antonio Meilán (The cousin of the wife of Constante, the creator of the Daïquiri Floridita) says that Hemingway came into the bar to go to the toilet. When he came out, the drinks that everyone was drinking attracted him. He tasted one and said: “That’s good but I prefer it without sugar and double rum”. So, Constante prepared it to his taste and served it to him saying. “There it is Papa”. That’s how the cocktail, which was named after him – the Papa Hemingway – was born. Later grapefruit juice was added and that gave the “Hemingway Special”. Some people preferred it even to cocktails like the Daïquiri or the Mojito.

From that day, he did neither wish or was able to separate himself from the Floridita and its Daïquiri. He came every morning about ten o’clock. He settled on his stand, number one, at the corner of the bar. He asked his driver to buy the newspaper at the Plaza Hotel at hundred meters from the Floridita.

 The Floridita became also an experience that he offered to his friends who passed in the island. He brought, among others, the Duke of Windsor, Gene Tunney, Jean-Paul Sartre, Gary Cooper, Luis Miguel Dominguin, Ava Gardner, Tennessee Williams, Spencer Tracy.

 Today, in the Floridita, on the wall, above his favourite place, there is the bronze bust inaugurated in 1954 for his Nobel Prize of literature. His seat, protected by a chain, remains forever unoccupied.

 Hemingway Daiquirí, Papa Doble, Wild Daiquirí, Daiquirí Special

The following recipe is based upon the Daiquirí recipe from El Floridita that Hemingway drinks with A. E. Hotchner in his book Papa Hemingway.

 1 serving

2 1/1 jiggers Bacardi or Havana Club rum
(1 jigger = 1 1/2 ounces)
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1/2 grapefruit
6 drops of maraschino (cherry brandy)

Fill a blender one-quarter full of ice, preferably shaved or cracked. Add the rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice and maraschino.
Blend on high until the mixture turns cloudy and light-colored. ( See Islands in the Stream, page 281 for a more Hemingway-esque description.)

Serve immediately in large, conical goblets.

Excerpted from The Hemingway Cookbook by Craig Boreth (c) Craig Boreth 1998. Used with permission of Craig Boreth