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Mai-Kai cocktail review: The story of the Floridita Daiquiri rivals any novel

Updated July 2014
See below: Our Floridita Daiquiri review | Official Mai-Kai recipe
Related: Lost Cocktails of The Mai-Kai: Short-lived daiquiri disappared when Cuba fell
The Derby Daiquiri: The Mai-Kai’s ‘$100,000 drink’ | Mai-Kai cocktail guide

The Floridita Daiquiri, the legendary cocktail born in Cuba and reportedly consumed by author Ernest Hemmingway in prodigious numbers, is one of history’s most debated rum drinks. One thing not open for debate, however: The Mai-Kai’s version has become a classic in its own right after more than 50 years on the Fort Lauderdale restaurant’s menu.

Ernest Hemingway at El Florida with bartender Constantino Ribalaigua.
Ernest Hemingway at El Florida with bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert.

Stories about La Floridita Daiquiri, as it was known at Havana’s El Florida bar (later known as El Floridita), are varied and many. One thing’s for certain: It was created by legendary mixologist Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, who spent nearly 50 years at the bar until his death in 1952. He started as a bartender and later owned the place. According to our favorite bum, cocktail historian and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Vert was known as “El Rey de los Coteleros” (“The Cocktail King”) and reportedly squeezed 80 million limes and poured 10 million daiquiris in his lifetime.
* Rum Connection: Watch bartender Alejandro Bolivar make a daiquiri at El Floridita

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