One cannot visit Cuba without sampling the rum, enjoying a cigar, and having a mojito. I had a list of Cuban cocktails I wanted to try, but knew my time would be tight so I had to prioritize just in case I only got the chance to enjoy one cocktail. The choice was easy. I mean, one cannot go to the birthplace of the mojito and NOT have one. Really, who does that?
One of the highlights of my trip to Cuba was the rum and cigar pairing we attended after our tour of Old Havana. Our tour guide extraordinaire, Tony, took us to Tocororo Restaurant for the tasting. And let me tell you, this place is full of character and ambiance. There is something to catch your attention on every wall and in every corner from murals, art work, displays, and pictures. It really is just the sort of eclectic place I’d love to hang out in with good company and great drinks. While here, we were walked through the proper way to prepare and a light a cigar, got to sample some wonderful Cuban coffee and Havana Club rum, and had a live band play for us. All in all, it was a great time.
Fun Fact: The colors of the tocororo bird reflect the red, blue, white of the Cuban flag. It is for this reason it was chosen as the national bird of Cuba
After a quick walk around the restaurant, we were lead to our tables, which were already set for our rum and cigar pairing lesson. We had a taste of the Havana Club 7, a Romeo y Julieta cigar, and cup of espresso. I’m not usually a fan of drinking any liquor straight, but the Club 7 is a smooth aged rum meant to be sipped as is. I was pleasantly surprised at its mellowness and can personally attest this is a great rum (I made sure to purchase a bottle) that pairs very well with cigars.
We were also given a shot of espresso made with Cuban coffee beans. Not an espresso fan, however this was very smooth–I didn’t even need to add sugar. Not a lot of people know this, but Cuban coffee pairs extremely well with cigars. Something about the flavors really balance out the cigar well.
Next up was a lesson on the proper way to light a cigar. Our presentation included the classic way of using a cedar spill (piece of cedar) vs. a lighter. Using the candle on the table, I actually managed to light my cedar spill & use it to start my cigar without burning myself, or the restaurant down. 🙂 After the lesson, we all sat back and enjoyed ourselves and fellowship with one another. We were treated to the sounds of authentic Cuban music from a great band.
Since the restaurant had a full bar, I used this opportunity to get a mojito and I was not disappointed. With absolute no exaggeration, I tell you this was the BEST mojito I have ever had.
(did I say ever yet? 🙂 )
I looking forward to visit Cuba again in the future. With only one day to visit, there is definitely a lot more of both the Havana & the country left for me to explore.