A Local’s Guide to Havana with Rum Makers Eminente

A Local’s Guide to Havana with Rum Makers Eminente

The people behind Cuban rum brand Eminente know how to have a good time. So who better to tell you exactly where, and how, to live it up with locals in Cuba’s capital city?

In partnership with

one foot in its storied past and the other stepping into a
promising future, Cuba is an exciting place to be right now – and
nowhere more so than in its capital, Havana. Why is now the time to visit? Just four
years after mobile internet landed on the Caribbean island and a
year after private businesses were legalised, young entrepreneurs
are flexing their creativity like never before.

Enter Eminente, one of the country’s most stylish and beguiling
new brands. This premium rum label was developed by Cuba’s youngest maestro ronero (master rum
distiller), César Martí, and tips its hat to the island’s
heritage while tinkering with the art of distillation for a modern
clientele. The results have been a storming success. Launched in
2020, Eminente – rich, complex, perfect for sipping or mixing into
cocktails – has already been awarded the coveted Denominación de
Origen Protegida status.

Eminente has also found its way into the hearts of Cubans, and
onto the shelves of the coolest bars, through collaborations with
the brightest artists, chefs, hoteliers and designers. You’ll find
many of them in this Eminente-approved guide to Havana, along with
insider knowledge on where to find the freshest ceviche, most
ornate cocktails, best independent boutiques and hottest party
spots. Read on for the Havana beloved by locals – the one you won’t
hear about in a typical tourist guide.

Havana like a local: Exploring the city with rum brand

Havana, Cuba Roadtrip
Havana, Cuba Streets

A palm-fringed road, left, and the sun-drenched streets of

Where to Stay in Havana, Cuba

Gardens Havana

Just four bedrooms occupy this sumptuous Old Havana retreat,
which feels less like a hotel and more like a stylish private home.
Designed by Philip Winser (the man behind New York’s The Fat
Radish), it’s a true tribute to a bygone era, with elegant lunette
windows and marble tiles. There are plenty of inviting nooks in
which to linger, too, from the palm-trimmed courtyard and
lantern-strewn rooftop pergola to the music room (complete with
grand piano) and cocktail bar, where you can mix yourself an
Eminente cocktail to start your evening.

463 Villegas
+53 5 508 0676

Casa Vitrales

Stroll 10 minutes’ north from the jumbled centre of Old Havana
and it’s impossible to miss this pistachio-green and rhubarb-pink
bed and breakfast that occupies three storeys of a grand 1902
townhouse. The high ceilings, louvred shutters and original
stained-glass windows evoke the historic spirit of this
Unesco-listed corner of the city, but its nine spacious rooms and
open-air sun terrace have been restored with a modern,
Italian-influenced twist.

106 Calle Habana
+53 5 875 3918

Gardens Havana, Courtyard
Gardens Havana, Bedroom

The courtyard at Gardens Havana, left, and an airy bedroom

Where to Eat in Havana, Cuba

Santy Pescador

Hidden down a nondescript alley behind a signless blue door and
overlooking the colourful boats that catch its daily wares, this
charming restaurant is renowned for serving Havana’s freshest fish.
Named after “Santy”, a famous Cuban sportfishing captain, it
specialises in world-class sushi and ceviche and is a firm
favourite among the farándula (celebrities), so be sure to book
ahead. Warning: there’s no written menu, so it helps to know a bit
of Spanish.

Calle 240A, Jaimanitas
+53 7 272 4998


This bohemian farm-to-table eatery, located in an artist’s
charming home, is headed up by leading Cuban chef Enrique Suárez.
Billed as Havana’s first gastropub, it sources the ingredients for
its inventive, daily-changing menu from an organic finca just
outside the city. Factor in fantastic mojitos and a rustic, cosy
interior filled with vintage typewriters, car numberplates and
swinging saloon doors, and you have a memorable night out.

118 Calle 38
+53 5 281 2144

Malećon 663, Dinner

A breezy restaurant, left, and dinner at Santy

Where to Drink in Havana, Cuba

Malecón 663

Head to the rooftop solarium of this chic boutique hotel for
sunsets overlooking the lively Malecón waterfront. Run by famed
Cuban percussionist Orlandito Mengual and his French wife, Malecón
663 is not just a hotel and bar but an ode to contemporary art,
with bombastic creations on display at every turn. There’s a
different music theme every night, from Latin jazz to chillout DJ
sets, and no shortage of expertly crafted Eminente cocktails.
Arrive early in the evening to secure the best view.

663 Malecón
+53 7 860 1459

Bar PaZillo

This loved-by-locals haunt in the neighbourhood of Vedado
(meaning “forbidden”, as it was once a closed military zone) has a
warm, colloquial feel, varied live-music programme and well-stocked
bar with an emphasis on creative rum-based cocktails. If that’s not
enough to tempt you, there’s also a menu of more than 50 hamburgers
to work your way through. Grab a table in the outdoor courtyard,
surrounded by exotic greenery, and settle in till late (it closes
at 3am).

6 Vedado
+53 7 835 1106

Sunset at Malecón 663, left, and a cocktail connoisseur in

Where to Shop in Havana, Cuba

Dador Havana

Skip the tourist traps and delve into Dador, a design collective
run by female-only entrepreneurs. Behind the imposing wrought-iron
gates, you’ll find limited-edition garments that have been made by
hand in their Old Havana studio and workshop. Be sure to chat with
the owners about their story, and should you choose to invest in
one of their timeless pieces, the team will alter it for you
on-site, too.

253 Amargura
+53 5 973 3010

Habana 1791

For a unique souvenir, look no further than a bottle of
custom-crafted perfume from this museum-come-shop. Habana 1791,
which, according to chief perfumer Yanelda Mendoza, seeks to
“recall the smells of colonial Havana”, lives inside an
18th-century mansion with a gorgeous terrace. Here you can inspect
the drying petals and other raw ingredients before their scent –
whether vetiver or orange blossom, tobacco or sandalwood – is
extracted. The antique-style glass vessels you’ll take your
concoction home in are things of beauty in their own right.

156 Mercaderes
+53 7 861 3525

A DJ at EFE Bar, left, and a live performance

What to Do and Where to Dance in Havana, Cuba


Fancy letting your hair down? Then hotfoot it to EFE Bar, a
vibrant, cosmopolitan venue in Vedado that transforms from a
relaxed lunch spot by day to a buzzy party destination by night.
Known for its excellent acoustics, this is one of the best places
in town in which to dance into the small hours, under balloons,
lanterns and disco balls.

23rd Street
+53 5 498 5791


For a colourful culture fix, take a taxi 20 minutes’ west of
Havana to explore the kaleidoscopic labyrinth of Fusterlandia. In
1975, artist José Fuster, otherwise known as the Gaudí of Cuba, set
about transforming this once-poor, ramshackle fishing town into a
sprawling mosaic masterpiece, starting with his own home and
studio. Fuster still lives and works in the same spot, and if
you’re lucky you might even spot him in action.

Corner Calle 226 & Av 3
+53 7 271 2932

The Lowdown

Discover more of Havana’s creative flair with Cuban rum
brand Eminente.

A colourful mural in Havana

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