Saturday, 23 January 2010

Our Lady in Havana

Heading optimistically for Cuba, a nation of rum drinkers, this lady felt like a modern day crusader. By the end of her secret mission the locals would be drinking gin. Armed with a few key Spanish phrases - Si, Ginebra, Gin-Tonic and 'Te pido disculpas por mi comportamiento de anoche' she was feeling pretty confident.

A trip to the Museo del Ron in Havana confirmed suspicions, we were about as likely to stumble out and find a branch of Starbucks as to discover that gin had overtaken rum in popularity. But when in Rum...a tour followed in this heavily branded Havana Club 'museum' (looked like a bar to us) and attached shop and we felt it our duty to try Havana Club 7 anejos . Not one for mojitos, this is a feisty sort to be sipped straight and savoured.

I hopped into the back of a 1955 Blue Plymouth and was whisked across town to Hotel Nacional. Sipping a G&T on the lawn I reflected this Communist lark wasn't all bad. Good intentions followed and a trip to the local shop proved there is a small demand for gin. An assortment of lesser known brands and only one bottle of Beefeater left...

I stumbled into a bar to contemplate this evidence of an underground gin drinking network. I perused the cocktail menu. It would appear that mojitos cost around £1.50 while a gin was around a fiver. The ladies of the lane are nothing if not frugal. A two week fiesta followed, memories of salsa, thick cigar smoke and the smell of fresh mint - Gin darling, it was just the once and I was thinking about you all the time.

P.S. If you are heading there soon, bring us gals back a Cohiba each and a bottle of Havana Club Barrel Proof. Just for research purposes of course.

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