The La Florida Cocktail

As you might well guess, based on the name, this drink was invented at the famous La Florida bar in Havana, during the golden age of cocktails, otherwise known as Prohibition. Well, to be fair, there is no exact date on this one, so it may have been slightly post-Prohibition, but in any case, it’s from the 1930s. And being from that particular bar at that particular time, it was, of course, created by the La Florida’s master bartender, Constantine Ribailagua. You might also guess, given that this drink was christened after the bar itself, that it was quite popular, or at least intended to be. No data on that, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t popular, because it’s awfully good.

The Recipe:

1 ounce lime juice

1 ounce light (white) rum

1/2 ounce Italian (sweet) vermouth

1/4 ounce creme de cacao

1 tsp. curaçao

1 tsp. grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

La Florida Cocktail

It’s certainly an odd combination of ingredients, but Constantine knew what he was doing. The dominant flavors are lime and cacao, the latter of which sits sort of just below everything and imbues it all with a faint chocolate taste. The drink is sweet up front, with a lingering sourness from the lime. Everything else seems to add balance and complexity without being explicitly tasted, though there is the occasional hint of orange. This is one of those almost perfect cocktails that rises well above the sum of its individual parts. Five livers.


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