So you’ve landed in Cuba and you’re ready to hit some bars. After all, this country is known for its rum (and the large quantities of it imbibed by author Ernest Hemingway during his stays on the island). But before you go out on the town during your Havana vacation, take note of a few tips. Don’t bother straining your eyes looking for a beer selection behind the bar. Chances are you have two options: a light (Cristal) and a dark (Bucanero). Also, because modern mixology hasn’t really made its way over to Cuba yet, your best bet when ordering a cocktail is to keep it simple and stick to the classics. You really can’t go wrong with a mojito or daiquiri made with Havana Club rum. Now, onto our list of some of the best bars in Havana.
Let’s start with the (necessary) tourist trap, known to many as “the cradle of the daiquiri.” This is a particularly famous Hemingway hideout (and a popular spot amongst some of his literary colleagues). It’s worth visiting historic El Floridita to try at least one daiquiri in the place where the drink was invented.
La Bodeguita del Medio
La Bodeguita del Medio boasts two big historic claims: Hemingway hung out here and the mojito was invented here. Never mind that both of these claims are heavily disputed; it’s still a cozy spot to visit. Maybe you like prefer Pablo Neruda over Hemingway anyway (Neruda was a frequent patron here). Plus, their mojitos are very good.
Madrigal Bar Cafe
If you just want to drink Cuba Libres in an old, retrofitted colonial house, Madrigal Bar Cafe — owned by Cuban filmmaker Rafael Rosales—is the place for you.
Cafe Fortuna Joe
A masterclass in expertly arranged kitsch, Cafe Fortuna Joe repurposes old car parts, typewriters, and other everyday household items into fascinating decorations.
Havana’s first openly gay bar is a great place to party all night. You’ll find expertly crafted cocktails and a karaoke party waiting for you at Humboldt 52.
Fabrica de Arte Cubano
A hybrid dance hall, concert venue, art gallery, and theater, this retrofitted oil factory has it all. Bars and outdoor areas are scattered throughout the sprawling space of Fabrica de Arte Cubano, which usually requires a wait to get in.