by the Cuba Journal staff
image by Haydn Blackey
El Floridita is a seafood restaurant and cocktail bar located in La Habana Vieja, the old section of Havana. It occupies its original location at the end of Calle Obispo (Bishop Street).
El Floridita opened in 1817 under the name “La Piña de Plata” (The Silver Pineapple). In 1914, the Catalan immigrant Constantino Ribalaigua Vert started working in the bar as cantinero (bartender). Constantino, nicknamed Constante, became the owner in 1918. More importantly, Constante is credited with inventing the frozen daiquiri in the early 1930s. Today, El Floridita carries the motto, “la cuna del daiquiri” (the cradle of the daiquiri).
The Nobel Prize-winning American writer Ernest Hemingway was a common fixture at the bar. It is a short walk from the Hotel Ambos Mundos where Hemingway maintained a room from 1932–1939. Hemingway’s children also noted that in the early 1940s Hemingway and his wife, Martha Gellhorn, frequently drove from their house outside Havana (Finca Vigía) to El Floridita for drinks. Hemingway’s history at the bar is preserved in a life-size bronze statue sculpted by the Cuban artist José Villa Soberón.
Other famous customers share a history with El Floridita. The establishment was frequented by many generations of Cuban and foreign intellectuals and artists. Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos and Graham Greene, the British novelist who wrote Our Man in Havana, were also frequent customers.