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HAVANA, Oct. 6th (Xinhua)   El Floridita, a famous bar in Havana, Cuba, known as the cradle of daiquiri, a cocktail made of lemon juice, sugar and rum, on Thursday Read more

CUBA-HAVANA-BARTENDERS-CONTESTHAVANA, July 16th (AP) Happy hour came early Thursday as 10 bartenders from six countries including Cuba, the United States and Canada vied to be crowned “king of the daiquiri” at the storied El Floridita where the drink was born.

Salsa music blared in the morning, blenders hummed and a few dozen spectators were on hand to applaud the mixologists when they presented their frothy cocktails, using tongs to finish them off by slipping in colorful straws.

Nick Detrich, a 31-year-old from New Orleans, intently eyeballed his whirring blender as he added splashes of rum, explaining afterward that his technique involves “watching it dance” and picking up cues from the texture.

“Watching the swirl to make sure that that’s uniform, as opposed to just doing one and a half ounces and calling it a day,” said Detrich, who runs Cane & Table and two other joints back home along with his partners. “You really learn that drink while you’re making it.

The rules called for contestants to prepare three traditional rum- and lime-based daiquiris, as well as two of a fruity variant chosen by lots — strawberry, mango, pineapple, a greenish mint-infused take known as a “rebelde,” or “rebel.” Three veteran El Floridita bartenders in bright red blazers and ties sat at the bar as judges, with tasters at a nearby table.

Contestants from Argentina, Mexico and Panama also took part.

“We are coming together through the mixing of different cocktails,” said Mirtha de las Mercedes Gonzalez Salguero, a 21-year-old from Matanzas, Cuba, who was called upon to whip up banana daiquiris as part of her trial.

The daiquiri is “a word with deep Cuban roots,” she added.

El Floridita, which is celebrating its 199th anniversary, is famous as one of the watering holes favored by longtime Havana resident Ernest Hemingway. According to legend he once downed 13 sugarless doubledaiquiris in a single sitting.

Tourists are fond of having their picture taken with a life-size statue of the Nobel Prize-winning author resting its elbow on the bar; each day, employees place a cold one next to it in honor of El Floridita’s most famous customer.

“To experience any sort of place that’s been open for this long, it takes you out of your life in a way, you know?” Detrich said. “It gives you a lot of perspective on, like, for me not just what I do for a living but the passions that I have outside of bartending and literature and things like that.”

HAVANA,July  24  Historic change between the U.S. and Cuba trickled down to the streets of Havana Thursday as a bartending competition in Havana featured a South Florida visitor.

Bartenders from around the globe showcased their skills at the King of the Daiquiri contest, which took place at El Bar Floridita. For the first time, the event included barkeeps from the U.S.

Among the participants was Miami resident John Christian Lermayer, and he said he felt very welcome at the competition. “All I can do is go back to America and tell other American bartenders how warm and receptive that the Cuban bartenders are to us,” he said.

Lermayer said he almost felt like a pioneer representing the continental U.S. in Havana. “The doors are going to open for more and more Americans. I can tell you that the first group of Americans that are going to come here are bartenders,” he said.

The competition, however, proving to be too much for Lermayer, as a Cuban barkeep was crowned King of the Daiquiri.

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