Havana Club | A True Cuban experienceSPECIAL FEATURE
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A TRUE CUBAN
You would be forgiven to believe that Cuba has a certain amount of exclusion about it, yet upon being within the city of Havana it is clear this is not the case. If anything the opposite is apparent – the town is open and forgiving in its view and a sight to behold.
Experiencing this with me are Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller – drink historians, curators of the Havana club Cocktail Grand Prix but also Cuban enthusiasts. Not because they have to be but because they choose to be. We speak about Cuban culture and the importance of inclusivity in a nation that to some can be seen as anything but.
IN CUBA THEY ALWAYS FIND A WAY. THEY ARE CONSTANTLY THINKING OF THINGS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY. THEY ARE INCREDIBLY CONSCIOUS OF THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM AND IT IS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR.
AE: And the Rum?
AM: There was always rum and food…naturally. Then when we was working in the south of France we met the CEO of Havana Club at the time and he invited us on a trip to Cuba.
JB: My fascination with rum began when I was six year old. A bar opened near were I lived in upstate New York. The menu was done by Charles H Baker, who wrote one of the most famous cocktail books in the twentieth century. So my fist exposure to rum was in a bar known by one of the most famous cocktail influencers of his time. I never stood a chance…
AE: You both have been visiting Cuba for a while then?
AM: Religiously for About 9 years.
JB: My favourite restaurant in New York was a Cuban place, it was cheap but delightful. My ex was Dominican so I knew the culture very well. It was like coming home. It was like falling in love – I fall in love every week and hour with everything about this place.
AE: I agree, it all feels very true here. Would you say you have seen a change culturally in time that you have been here?
JB: But it hasn’t changed due to the relaxation of tourism, it has come about due to the change of law in profiting personally through urban allotments. For instance if you have a house then you can turn it into a restaurant or a bar. So if you are a chef and you know someone with a house you can in theory make a restaurant. That is fantastic.
AM: In Cuba they always find a way. They are constantly thinking of things that contribute to the community. They are incredibly conscious of the people around them and it is a breath of fresh air.
AE: Where did the relationship between cuban culture begin for you personally?
JB: It started for me in 1968 when I first visited Cuba and I discovered Anistatia. Back then she was a shell diver…
AM: Half of us were French half of us were British and we were always meeting up with cuban fisherman who had plenty of time for us.
Havana club 7 45ml
Sour orange 7.5ml
Fresh Sugar Can Juice 60ml
Essence of Cuba – Tropical fruits
Stick of Natural Sugar Cane
Sour Orange spiral
Serve in Clay Cup sitting on little plate with Tabaco leaf
By Amaury Cepada, winner of the 11th Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix
AE: How do think this free thinking has an impact on the cocktail makers that enter the competition but also work here?
JB: The culture, the food the style all has an impact on them. For instance when we turned up to the malycon with a boombox members of the Cuban ballet turned up and drink so the people that visit really have a chance to experience it. Hopefully it will have an impact not only in bar tending but also in their daily life.