Updated: Feb 14
I’m on a mission to visit iconic bars around the world, sampling cocktails in the place they were created and drinking beverages made famous by interesting people and locations. My list is very long but here are just 10 for the purpose of this article. Why not embark on a similar journey yourself? Go on, start your own list and tell us where you would choose to visit for a tipple first!
El Floridita. Havana, Cuba
When it first opened, this bar in Cuba’s capital city was called La Piña de Plata, meaning The Silver Pineapple. Almost 100 years later, the owner changed the name to El Floridita. The writer, Ernest Hemingway was responsible for putting many bars on the “must visit” map and this was one of his favourite haunts when he lived in Havana. The Daquiri Cocktail was invented here by an American mining engineer called Jennings Cox who was in Cuba at the time of the Spanish-American war.
Daquiri is also the name of a beach and an iron mine near Santiago de Cuba. Daquiri is a rum-based cocktail and can be made with a variety of fruity juices.
2. Harry’s Bar. Venice, Italy.
The famous Harry’s Bar, Venice is a bit of a surprise when you find it. It’s tiny and there doesn’t seem to be anything special about it when you enter except the waiters wearing white Tuxedos. The Bellini cocktail was first served here in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, head bartender and owner. Harry’s Bar is easily missed as you wander around Venice viewing all the awesome architecture. There are no big bold signs, just Harry’s Bar etched into the glass of the entrance door. One of the easiest cocktails to knock up at home, the Bellini is pureed peach topped with chilled prosecco. Some swear it is a great hangover cure!
3. Sloppy Joe’s. Key West, Florida, USA
Sloppy Joe’s dates from 1933. Located in Florida’s Key west it’s a great place to enjoy a beer and watch sport but it also hosts the Annual Ernest Hemingway look-a-like contest. July 2020 will be the 40th time the event has taken place here. The contest celebrates Hemingway’s birthday and his work as an author. Last year over 150 look-a-likes took part in the contest. Sloppy Joe’s is on the American National Register of Historic Places.
4. The Blind Beggar. London, England.
The Blind Beggar is well known for several reasons. Most often people associate it with the murder of George Cornell by the infamous twin, Ronnie Kray. The pub, which is in the Whitechapel area of East London was the location of William Booth’s first sermon after which the Salvation Army was formed. At one time, the pub was owned by England’s football captain, Bobby Moore. The Blind Beggar takes its name from Henry de Montfort who lost his sight in the Battle of Evesham in 1265 and became known as the blind beggar of Bethnal Green. This pub is a popular stop on the London Monopoly Board pub crawl. I plan to tackle the Monopoly Board challenge this year!
5. Raffles Hotel. Singapore
Originally a private beach house, this impressive colonial-styled Raffles is where the Singapore Sling cocktail was invented sometime around 1915. A bartender called Ngiam Tong Boon at the hotel’s Long Bar first mixed the drink. It was originally called the Gin Sling. Gin, cherry brandy, lemon juice and soda are the ingredients and of course, the Sling should be served in a highball glass and finished with a cherry and a lemon slice.
6. The Ritz. London, England
Tea at The Ritz is a fine British Tradition. Whilst 18 varieties of tea are on offer, champagne is also a suitable beverage for the occasion. A traditional serving of tea with sandwiches, scones and pastries costs £60 for one person. Add a glass of champagne for an extra £19! Everyone should drop into the Ritz once in a lifetime to sample this lovely British afternoon tradition.
7. The Pub, Valetta, Malta
In a Reuters poll, this was voted no.5 in the most legendary bars in the world. Valetta, the capital of Malta is a fascinating place to visit with an extraordinarily rich history but what makes The Pub so popular with tourists is the death of actor, Oliver Reed. He was on one of his famous drinking sessions one Saturday morning while taking a break from filming Gladiator when he collapsed and died. The pub is a traditional sailor’s drinking establishment, about 200 years old.
8. The Bluebird Cafe. Nashville, USA
The Bluebird is a small cafe bar where numerous famous country musicians and composers’ careers have been launched. It opened in 1982. Performers and A&R reps still go there to find new material that is showcased at the regular acoustic nights. It featured in most episodes of the hit TV drama, Nashville
9. Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland.
In 1599, the teacher and philosopher, Sir William Temple built his home in the area we now know as Temple Bar beside the River Liffey. The pub called The Temple Bar is world-famous for its traditional Irish music seven days a week, over 450 different whiskies and of course, a plate of oysters served with a pint of Guinness.
10. Garota de Ipanema. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
This is the restaurant & bar where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes watched a beautiful girl walk by on her way to the beach inspiring them to write that classic Bossa Nova song, Girl from Ipanema. The restaurant displays a photograph of Heloisa Pinheiro, that 17-year old girl who went on the become a model and Brazilian Playboy Playmate. I've always loved the song and because of it, I'd really like to visit Brazil and enjoy an icy cold Chope in the Garota de Ipanema.