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Daiquiri vs. mojito

The “fight” organized between these two iconic drinks obviously takes place in Havana, Cuba, under the auspices of Ernest Hemingway.

In the left corner, the daiquiri, named after a place east of Cuba known for its iron mine.

Following in the footsteps of the Nobel Prize laureate, I entered the famous Floridita bar and restaurant. My host was Andrés Arencibia, the current director and a fascinating gentleman who has endless stories to tell.

Between Andrés Arencibia and Ernest Hemingway
Between Andrés Arencibia and Ernest Hemingway
Natural daiquiri
Natural daiquiri

First, I ordered a “natural daiquiri,” which was served with crispy dried banana. Here is the recipe:

  • 40 ml light rum
  • 20 ml lime juice
  • 5 ml sugar syrup
  • Mix in a shaker with crushed ice and serve in a frosted glass.

Then, I tasted two other versions of the Hemingway daiquiri. As a diabetic, he was served his daiquiri without sugar, and the version was called the “Papa Hemingway.” Later, Hemingway preferred to replace or complement the lime juice with grapefruit juice. And the last touch by the Floridita team was to add five drops of maraschino liqueur to create the “Special Hemingway.”

In the right corner, the mojito, named after the African word “mojo” (which means “place a little spell”).

Hemingway used to say “my daiquiri in the Floridita, and my mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio.” The place is also located in Old Havana, a few blocks from the Floridita.

Inside the Bodeguita del Medio in Old Havana
Inside the Bodeguita del Medio in Old Havana

Even though it is a very touristy place, the music played there that day (live music, of course) — along with all these colors, posters, souvenirs and paintings — brought me back to the 1950s.

The mojito recipe served there is typically:

  • 60 ml light rum
  • 30 ml lime juice
  • 6 fresh mint sprigs
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • Lime wedge for garnish
  • Chilled highball glass

Sometimes, Hemingway would add some Champagne (excellent!) or a splash of club soda.

On Empedrado Street, maybe the birthplace of the mojito
On Empedrado Street, maybe the birthplace of the mojito

Both places feature a restaurant attached to the bar, and you are being served typical Cuban food with its Spanish, African and Caribbean influences: black beans, boiled rice, pork shank, chicken, plantains …

From my perspective, it’s a tie, but I’ll honor Hemingway’s “my daiquiri in the Floridita, and my mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio.”

Now it’s up to you to decide. Cheers!

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