In a cobbled street in Old Havana, La Bodeguita del Medio, a famous restaurant-bar known for its mojitos and top-notch Cuban cuisine, held a special celebration for its 75th anniversary.
This old cellar is now a famous tourist site in the Cuban capital and it is estimated that more than 1 million people have passed by this place to taste a distinctive cocktail or try a typical dish like ropa vieja or congri rice.
“Today nobody comes to Cuba without going to La Bodeguita del Medio to eat or drink a mojito or to El Floridita and drink a daiquiri and that is important,” said Angel Fernandez, director of La Bodeguita del Medio franchise.
Known for its mojito, a Cuban cocktail with a mixture of rum, sugar, tonic water and peppermint, La Bodeguita del Medio is considered part of the Caribbean nation’s cultural heritage.
“It is not only a part of gastronomic culture but also of the Cuban culture and I believe that this is the success of La Bodeguita del Medio, which is present in various parts of the world today because it symbolizes the most authentic Cuban food, cocktails and music,” he added.
During the celebration on Wednesday, Cuban tourism authorities recognized staff who have been at the venue for more than 20 years.
“La Bodeguita is distinguished above all by our treatment of customers because our founder said we should provide customers with a unique experience,” said Jose Pumarada, director of La Bodeguita del Medio.
La Bodeguita del Medio is not only famous for its gastronomic legacy, but also for being one of the greatest exponents of typical Cuban food.
Coupled with a bohemian and very Cuban atmosphere, the restaurant has been the sanctuary for many intellectuals, artists and political figures over the years.
Renowned personages of all eras have visited the restaurant, including Ernest Hemingway, the American novelist, short story writer and journalist.
“We have the tradition of Cuban food as well as the mojito. Although they were not invented here, we did start to commercialize them in the country through the figure of Hemingway due to his visits to the place,” he said.
Pumarada, who has been working at the restaurant for more than a decade, said the Old Havana spot has become a must-visit site for tourists every year. Its walls are marked and signed by visitors.
Currently, it has branches all over the world including in Mexico and several European countries. At the end of May, a new branch will open in the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai.