In Cuba, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a craft cocktail or an extensive beer hall with a ton of taps. For various reasons (like 50 years of austerity, etc., etc.), Cuban drinking culture hasn’t evolved much beyond classic mojitos, daiquiris, and Cuba Libres (all made with Havana Club rum, of course), and there are only two types of beer: light Cristal and dark Bucanero. But when you party in Havana, what you’re drinking is always secondary to where you’re drinking.
Here’s a list of my opinion of the best bars in Havana:
1. Espacios – Miramar | http://www.espacios-habana.com/
There’s a little more attitude at this chic and contemporary suburban house bar than some of the other, more quirky places on this list, but the gorgeous green-treed backyard makes even an ounce of pretension totally reasonable. Cuban drink staples abound, but you also might be able to find some international imports if you’re willing to pay.
2. Fabrica de Arte Cubano FAC – Vedado | http://www.fac.cu/
Located in a defunct oil factory, FAC is a prime example of the Cuban government’s dedication to arts and culture. The multi-floored, government-sponsored space — which is part art gallery, part DJ dance club, part concert hall, and part film/performance theater — is giant, with enough outdoor areas and bars to satisfy the hundreds of hipsters who wait in line for an hour to get in every weekend.
3. Cafe Fortuna Joe – Miramar | https://www.facebook.com/cafefortunajoe/info/?tab=page_info
The intrigue here is almost 100% the interior decorations. Vintage typewriters, sewing machines, cameras, radios, and even a toilet clutter the space, and tables are made from old cars and other assorted house parts. Imbibing here will make you feel like you’re back home, if your home is your hoarder grandmother’s basement.
4. El Chanchullero de Tapas – La Habana Vieja |http://www.el-chanchullero.com/
With only four small wood tables and a few barstools, plus El Chanchullero’s reputation as the premier hip hole-in-the-wall, don’t be surprised if you have to wait a little while before enjoying a first-rate mojito and the shrimp enchiladas. The graffitied interior makes it feel a little divey, but that’s exactly what a detour off the threaded tourist path should entail.
5. El Floridita – La Habana Vieja | http://www.floridita-cuba.com/
No Havana bar list is complete without the self-proclaimed “cradle of the daiquiri.” Hemingway’s old haunt is mad touristy, but it truly is a special place worth checking out.