In the 1930s, two men, each on one side of the bar, contributed definitively to the daiquiri international fame.
The first glass of that cocktail was served by Constante Ribalaigua, considered the ‘father of the cantina’ in Cuba and the ‘king’ of the iconic combination of rum, sugar, lemon, maraschino and ice.
An American writer drank it, according to which the Catalan mixologist designed the variant ‘Papa Doble’ or ‘Papa Hemingway’, with double rum and without sugar.
This happened in El Floridita, the most famous cocktail bar in Cuba where Ernest Hemingway still rests his elbow on the bar, now as a bronze statue, in front of blenders that dismember ice and lemon without rest to fill every minute dozens of glasses of daiquiri frapé , the most famous creation of Constante (also known as Constantino).
The bartender and former owner of the Floridita rests in the Colon Cemetery of Havana of a life perhaps as intense and somewhat longer than that of his friend the Nobel Prize for Literature.
He was born in 1888, eleven years before Hemingway, and died nine years earlier, in 1952, leaving an eight-year-old orphan: Jorge Ribalaigua.
And today… a documentary
Today septuagenary, Jorge will be the narrator and indirect protagonist of the documentary about his father ‘Constante Ribalaigua, the King of Cocktails’.
This film in final process of filming, whose premiere is scheduled for next year, is the initiative of Montse Sala and David Barba, two historians from Lloret who are determined to make the world known as ‘the most influential mixologist of the 20th century’, as he defines it , was born in your town.
Constante is the one who establishes the canons of classic cocktails: a lot of the Cuban classics in cocktails.
Owned by Ribalaigua, El Floridita became part of the Cuban state when the 1959 Revolution triumphed, Constante died, and the family of Catalan origin emigrated to the United States where Jorge lives to this day.
The painful memory of those days took away the desire to return to Cuba for almost six decades, until the producers of the documentary proposed to go back to the bar where he spent part of his childhood.
Jorge certifies that the old bar of his family, today a must for all travelers who travel the historic center of Havana, ‘has changed a lot’ since childhood, although he acknowledges that ‘they continue to do daiquiris phenomena’ and proudly attributes it to ‘ legacy ‘of his father.
In addition to the most famous version of the daiquiri, Constant designed around 200 mixes for the enjoyment of the most demanding drinkers, among them Jean-Paul Sartre, Graham Greene, Gary Cooper or Ava Gardner, regular customers of El Floridita at a time when Havana exhibited its maximum splendor.