...and makes a Sloppy Joe. No, not the meaty sandwich, but the vintage Cuban cocktail.
As early as 1931, the drink was claimed by its namesake bar in Sloppy Joe's Bar Cocktails Manual; back then, it was a shake of cognac, port and citrus. The recipe has since evolved to showcase rum, the island nation's spirit of choice.
Chris Hannah and his Miami-based buddies were recently in Cuba on research visas, part of a new wave of tourism that's revived Sloppy Joe's Bar, which had been shuttered since the mid-1960s.
In the same spot where bartenders once served Ernest Hemingway and Clark Gable, Chris was invited to make classic Cuban drinks.
"It's warmer longer [in Cuba]...so they make a great deal of frozen daiquiris and mojitos," Chris told me. "Bars are packed with rum - mostly Havana rum - and only have a few Scotches and gins. White rum is their vodka."
Whether you use white rum in a Sloppy Joe depends on your choice of orange liqueur.
While some modern Sloppy Joes rely on triple sec (bright and light, best paired with white spirits), Chris makes his with brandy-based orange curaçao, whose bitter orange and spiced vanilla goes especially well with darker, aged rums. Here, Chris favors the smooth and sultry El Dorado 8 year.
He finishes the Sloppy Joe with pineapple juice, a healthy dose of lime juice and punt e mes, a softly bittered red vermouth that adds juicy roundness and a dry finish.
Besides the turn behind Sloppy Joe's Bar, another highlight of Chris's trip was his pilgrimage to the grave of Constantino Vert, a cantinero credited with creating the frozen daiquiri. At his tomb, Chris raised a frozen daiquiri with his Cuban peers.
"That was an honor to hear from [the] Cuban bartenders," says Chris, "and that they were happy to meet me, and [liked] the idea."
Arnaud's French 75, 813 Bienville, 523.5433
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