Cuba is a country steeped in history, its culture largely unchanged for the past five decades. You can feel it when you walk through the streets of Havana, you can see it in the texture of the buildings. You can hear it in the music that plays in the bodeguitas at night, and in the laughs of the people gathered in the plazas. Like wrinkles on the face of an elder, these are signs that a city has stories to tell, one must only seek to find the story tellers. One such story is the story of El Floridita, the cradle of the daiquiri.
First opened in 1820, El Floridita was originally named La Pi¬ña de Plata, meaning “The Silver Pineapple”. Nearly a century later the name was changed to El Florida, which due to a predominantly North American clientele at the time, evolved into El Floridita meaning “Little Florida”. The building sits at 557 Obispo Street at the corner of Avenida Belgicia in Old Havana. Its iconic faded pink exterior and glass door entrance gives way to an interior of plush banquets, small metal tables and a checkerboard floor that transports you back to the early 19th century.
A four-piece band plays meringue by the front door welcoming guests into the over capacity room as the singer belts out beautiful melodies in Spanish over the voices of a few hundred patrons. A long wooden bar stretches the length of the back wall and small metal chairs scatter the floor poised next to the crowded tables. Thick red velvet curtains hang at the far end of the room separating the bar area from the dining room which is beautifully festooned with white tablecloths and stemmed glassware, all of which are very dated albeit in the most enchanting way.