There are few cities steeped in drinking culture as well preserved as Havana. The term “beautifully dilapidated” while seeming like an oxymoron is accurate here. Houses and hotels lived in by Al Capone and Ernest Hemingway (not together…that we know of) are shown as tourist attractions. More than that though, are the countless bars with cheap and delicious Cuban beers and live music…everywhere. Doing a bar hop in Old Havana could not be easier.
Usually these bar hops start with a recommendation of a place to eat. Cafes and street vendors are everywhere in Havana so no worries there, just grab what you see when you want. Most of the bars on this list have food as well. Often options are limited to “Ham and Cheese Sandwich”, “Ham Sandwich” or “Cheese Sandwich” but two or three of those are more than enough for a night walking around this gorgeous city.
1/ Sloppy Joe’s first came to popularity during American Prohibition. If you want a history of the establishment there are many books out there. Recently rejuvenated, they now have one of the best Cuban rum selections of any bar I’ve ever seen. A chance to taste a 25 year old rum without having to commit to a bottle is a great way to start your day of tippling in Havana.
2/ El Floridita, while a touch touristy, is a must see. The flashing neon and staff uniforms remind you of just how long this place has been around. Their frozen daiquiri is legendary and there is a statue of Hemingway at the far end of the bar.
3/ Bar Monserrate. Just a block away from El Floridita is Bar Monserrate. At present this bar is nothing special, but they do have a lot of history. The room is gorgeous with very high ceilings and dark wood. A band will almost always be playing here.
4/ Hotel Ambos Mundos. Head back toward Obispo and head through the pedestrian tourist shops full of flags, cigars and rum and get to the Hotel Ambos Mundos. Forget about the stories of Hemingway staying here when he lived in Havana (or get really into all the displays they have of his things) and head upstairs to the patio bar. If you time this out right you should be able to catch the beginnings of a sunset.
5/Bodeguita Del Medio. A short walk from there is the Bodeguita Del Medio. You should be able to avoid one or several of the rushes of tours that come through this bar. Those golden moments are when this bar truly shines. You can see more of what we think of this bar here.
The next day wake up whenever you want and head to The Hotel Nacional. You will need to take a taxi along the malecon from Old Havana to get here. They have a better selection of food than a lot of places and you can check out the attached military bunkers. Also, maybe get yourself a Hotel Nacional Cocktail. It only makes sense, right?
Do you have any bars in Old Havana to add to our list? Comment below.
Note: As with all Bar Hops, we are not encouraging getting inebriated. This is a list of great cocktail bars that we suggest visiting while in Old Havana. We want you to have fun and play safe. Check out How to Do a Good Bar Hop for some hot tips.