My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita.” Ernest Hemingway knew how he liked his booze, and more specifically, where he liked to drink it. The famous author allegedly scribbled these words, which are now framed above a bar in Havana, in homage to the original “most interesting man in the world.” Larger than life, Hemingway loved to fish, to write and to enjoy a good time with a good drink.
Mobilians now have the perfect spot to enjoy both of these famous Cuban concoctions, as well as others … but only if they know how to find it. Tucked away in the old bank vault of the Trustmark building sits a cozy corner full of Hemingway books and memorabilia. There, reading in a guayabera shirt and Panama hat, sits Rosie (pictured right) — larger than life in both personality and stature. Give him the daily secret password (found on social media), and the bookshelf slides back to reveal a secret door into a dark and tropical speakeasy, ready to welcome you with authentic Cuban cocktails and snacks.
Owner Bob Baumhower, who has opened a number of restaurants since his days as an NFL nose tackle with the Miami Dolphins, had the idea for a Cuban speakeasy, no doubt influenced by his time in Miami. He recalls fishing in big game tournaments in Bimini, in the same waters that Hemingway once wrote about in “Islands in the Stream,” and feeling entranced by the legend of Hemingway. Las Floriditas pays tribute to Papa’s Cuban legacy.
Baumhower’s culinary team spent hours behind the bar at El Floridita in Havana, learning how to make the proper daiquiri. “They shut the place down for us!” Baumhower remembers. These daiquiris are the real deal, with hand-crushed ice and plenty of booze. Cane sugar cokes and Havana Club rum round out the authenticity — at least as far as the Treasury Department will allow.
The menu is small but tasty, with just the right amount of snacks to fill you up while you enjoy the Caribbean tunes. Authenticity is the name of Baumhower’s game. Well, I guess technically football is the name of his game, but you know what I mean.
On the Menu
The mint hits your nose as you sip aged rum with honey, muddled mint, fresh key lime juice and a splash of club soda. You can almost hear the ocean.
Sweet and smoky Caribbean-spiced ground beef is served over black beans and rice — a comforting bowl inspired by traditional food of the Cuban people.
Baumhower’s corporate bar chef shared this recipe, which came over from Cuba with her mother. The guava and cream cheese flan is accented with guava coulis.
La piña de plata
Pink and purple, but not annoyingly sweet, this rum cocktail has prickly pear, pineapple, hibiscus, and fresh key lime, and is garnished with dried hibiscus blossoms.
Las Floriditas • 107 Saint Francis St. • 444-0201
4 – 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 – 11 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. – 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday