18 Dec. 2017
The second season of our search for the perfect Daiquiri takes us to... Havana Moderna

Last year, we at Bar News opened our notebooks and shared some of the best Daiquiris we’ve ever had (and God knows we drink a lot of them each and every year). For the second edition, running throughout this week on the Havana Club Grand Prix Facebook page, we chose a different tack. Next year’s Grand Prix will honour ‘Cuba Moderna’, the modern Cuba. So we thought it was the perfect opportunity to explore the country’s capital and search for the best Daiquiris – or Daiquiri related cocktails – that it has to offer.
Our quest took us from legendary bars to secret watering holes; from rooftops extravaganzas to holes in the wall. Our drinks were made by experienced cantineros or young and upcoming mixologists. They were blended or shaken, served in coupettes, jars or even plastic glasses. Taken together, they’re part of the mosaic that is ‘Cuba Moderna’. And they tell the story of the Daiquiri.
Unsurprisingly, the first stop of our little adventure was at Floridita – it’s the first stop of ANY Havana adventure, of course. Ever since Constantino Ribalaigua had the initially weird but absolutely brilliant idea to use a blender for his Daiquiri, Floridita has been the mandatory place for some Frozen delight. And as the one and only Cradle of the Daiquiri, it has become the bar where people come to be schooled in this liquid art form… We’ll move to lesser-known spots for the following chapters. In the meantime, as a bonus and an introduction of sorts, we’ve asked Floridita’s head bartender Alejandro Bolivar to tell us, in his own words, the secrets behind the perfect Floridita Daiquiri. He, of all people, should know…

“It’s all about looking for the perfect balance of five ingredients. The rum has to be Cuban, of course. The sugar has to be of the highest quality, so it has to be made from sugarcane. We need fresh lime juice with good acidity. We also use maraschino liqueur, Constante’s genius addition to the traditional recipe of the Daiquiri. And the ice is what will allow us to serve a drink that does justice to Hemingway’s description in ‘The Old Man and the Sea’: a Daiquiri that “looks like the sea where waves fall away from the bow of a ship when she’s doing thirty knots”. We could even add a sixth ingredient to our list: the blender. It is after all the blender that will make the cocktail. At Floridita, we don’t measure the rum. We pour it slowly, little by little, and the blender tells us when enough is enough. We’re listening to the sound it makes and we hear when the Daiquiri is just right. The blender also gives us visual cues: as the blades rotate, you can see a small hole in the liquid, and when it’s a certain size we know it’s good. When we serve it, the ice has turned into a cream. The glass has to be the perfect showcase for the elegance of the drink. Finally, we add a straw because Cuba is a hot country and we don’t want our clients to suffer a brain freeze if they drink straight from the glass…”

Now, if that doesn’t make you crave for a Daiquiri right now, nothing will. Follow us on Facebook for more perfect serves straight from Havana. And Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!

François Monti