Cuban Diary: A Few of Hemingway’s Bars

While we were in Cuba, we visited three bars because of their famous connection with Ernest Hemingway. On our second day in Havana, as we were standing at the corner of Calle Obispo and Mercaderes, beside the Hotel Ambos Mundos (where Hemingway lived from 1932 to 1939), the guide told us about a bar around the corner that was (supposedly) frequented by Hemingway.

La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita del Medio is extremely popular with tourists, who fill the street to look inside and to buy mojitos.

One wall of La Bodeguita del Medio is covered with photographs of Hemingway.

Wall of La Bodeguita del Medio with photographs of Ernest Hemingway

Sloppy Joe’s, on the corner of Calle Animas and Zulueta in Old Havana, has been a landmark of Havana since Prohibition in the US.

Sloppy Joe’s

Sloppy Joe’s was extremely popular with American celebrities (e.g., John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, and Clark Gable) and their fans, who accounted for 90% of its business, until the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Nationalization, lack of business, and a fire closed Sloppy Joe’s in 1965 for 48 years.

Exterior of Sloppy Joe’s

Restoration of the bar in the same building was begun by the Cuban government in 2007, and the bar reopened on Friday, April 12, 2013.

The original bar can be seen in the 1959 movie Our Man in Havana, starring Alec Guiness.

60 foot bar in Sloppy Joe’s

Many of the same foods and drinks that were offered before are on the current menu. (Fun fact: The sloppy joe sandwich was supposedly inspired by this bar.) However, the menu items are too expensive for most Cuban citizens.

The third Hemingway bar that we visited is El Floridita on the corner of Calle Obispo and Monserrate (across from the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana).

Exterior of El Floridita

There are many memorabilia of Hemingway here, including framed photographs on the walls, a bust, and a life-sized bronze statue sitting on a bar stool at the end of the bar, with a book and glasses resting on the bar in front of it. The spot next to the statue is popular with tourists, for posing with the famous author.

Statue of Ernest Hemingway

There is a small enclosed area for a five-piece band playing (and singing) Cuban music.

Band at El Floridita

The specialty at El Floridita is the daiquiri.

Special daiquiri at El Floridita

Supposedly, Hemingway and his wife continued to drive to El Floridita for drinks even after their move to Finca Vigia outside Havana.

Stay tuned for more of our Cuban diary. Remaining posts will highlight vintage cars, public art, night photos, and general impressions. If you want to catch up on previous posts, read:

Eight Days in Cuba: an Introduction

Cuban Diary Day 1: Arriving in Cuba

Cuban Diary Day 2: Squares of Old Havana

Cuban Diary Day 2: Views of Old Havana

Cuban Diary Day 3: Cigars, Salad and Salsa

Cuban Diary Day 3: Ernest Hemingway’s Finca Vigia

Cuban Diary Day 4: Religion, Restoration, and Revolution

Cuban Diary Day 5: Society, Art, and a Micro-brewery

Cuban Diary Day 6: Las Terrazas Eco-community

Cuban Diary Day 7: Music and Revolution

Cuban Diary Day 8: Leaving Cuba