Beautiful Bucket List – Swilling a Cuba Libre in Old Havana

An authentic mojito in Old Havana, Cuba by Carol Schiraldi of Carol's Little World
“Cocktail from the Pirate Bar, Old Havana, Cuba” by Carol Schiraldi, iPhone 15 Pro Max, 2024

Do you have a bucket list? Ever stop and think about the things you want to do before you’re dead? It’s one of those things. I don’t really keep a very long bucket list, but there have always been a few things I’ve wanted to do. Guess you could say I have a beautifully short bucket list. One of my beautiful bucket list items has always been to swill a Cuba Libre at a bar in Old Havana.

A Bucket List is Born

Allow me to explain. Growing up, my family had a family friend. Originally from Cuba, his name was Arturo. A trucker by trade, he drove long distances, mostly across the country, so we didn’t see him all of the time, but he would come over to our house frequently when he was in town. Known as “Mr. Speedy” he was a close family friend. Arturo did not speak much about Cuba, but he often told us how he came to the United States to have a better life here. He did sometimes talk about Cuba and his life in the old country, at least I got a few stories in-between visits.

For some strange reason, one of the stories he told me when I was a child stuck with me. He talked a little bit about the revolution and Batista, about stories from Old Havana, and he talked about the origin of the rum and Coke drink or, as the Cubans call it, the “Cuba Libre.” Maybe it was something about the way he told the story, or maybe it was because I was a teenager, but something made to want to have a Cuba Libre. “Someday,” I thought to myself, “I too will enjoy a Cuba Libre in a bar in Old Havana.” This was added to my bucket list when I was a teenager but soon ignored. Of course, I added this to my bucket list, but never actually thought it would really come to pass. Ah, I should know by now. Photography opens some strange doors, doesn’t it? Maybe Cuba isn’t really all that far away but it felt like a million miles when I was a child hearing fables of the revolution in a place that seemed so far away.

The Drinks of Old Havana

Fast forward to my trip. As I was researching (which, by the way, I had little time to do, since I booked the trip about three weeks before I left) I discovered that there were several mixed drinks originating from Old Havana. Not only the aforementioned Cuba Libre, but the Daiquiri and the Mojito also have their origins in Havana. It’s also home to a disproportionate number of Pina Coladas in case you didn’t know.

When I booked my trip, I understood that Internet is spotty in Old Havana and that I might be unplugged for the duration of the trip. Many would find this a horror but I was actually looking to unplug for a bit. Looking forward to the unplugged version of life was fine with me. Because of the embargo, it’s also difficult to get telephone service there and a lot of the times you have to use cash (American credit cards are not accepted.) No Internet? No phone? Cash money? I was fine with it all, I could survive. I got this, right? The one gotcha? I was talking to my sister when I realized, “oh my gosh…do they drink coffee?!?” I could not survive a week without caffeine. The horror!

“Relax,” she told me, “they have Cuban coffee. You know that Summer Moon you drink? It’s strong, right? It’s kind of like that, it’s sweet and milky.”

Milky sweet coffee and not one but three drinks invented there? I was starting to like this place! “These are my people,” I told her, “perhaps I was Cuban in a past life!” Eh, maybe so.

Fast forward to Cuba. When I got there, I explained to my traveling companions about my bucket list. I wanted to have a Cuba Libre at a bar in Old Havana. Since I was there, I not only wanted to have a Cuba Libre, but I wanted to try the triumvirate as it were. All three drinks: a Mojito, a Daiquiri, and a Cuba Libre before the week was out. Could I do it? Was I up to the task?

Some photos of the mixed drinks of Cuba for you to enjoy today. First up, we have a Pina Colada. This with a fresh slice of pineapple for your refreshment.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is PinaColada-IMG_2824-1440x1920.jpg
“Pina Colada in Havana, Cuba” by Carol Schiraldi, iPhone 15 Pro Max, 2024

In Old Havana, there is a bar called the Floridita where legend has it the Cuba Libre was invented. This is also the bar where the Daiquiri was invented. It’s a rather popular place, as it was also a haunt for the great American writer Hemingway. There is still a statue at the bar of Hemingway. Here are a couple of shots from the Floridita bar in Old Havana.

“Bartender in Floridita” by Carol Schiraldi, iPhone 15 Pro Max, Havana, Cuba, 2024
“Hemingway in Floridita Bar, Old Havana, Cuba” by Carol Schiraldi, iPhone 15 Pro Max, 2024

Here is our bartender from La Esquina de Oro, a local bar near our AirBnB. We loved this place and went back several times. It’s a wonderful little gem with great food and tasty Cuba Libre’s.

Finally, here is my bucket list item being checked off. This is me, enjoying a Cuba Libre at a bar in Old Havana.

Swilling a Cuba Libre in a bar in Old Havana – used with permission from Jack and Mark, 2024

Old Havana is a wonderful place to enjoy a tasty cool beverage or three and it was fantastic checking off my bucket list item. Cheers!

Until next time…


  1. March 17, 2024 / 6:57 am

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being a source of positivity and light in this sometimes dark and overwhelming world

    • March 18, 2024 / 9:32 pm

      Happy I could be a bright spot and thanks for being a part of Carol’s Little World.

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