Bahama Bob's Rumstyles

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Havana's Sloppy Joes is One of my Favorite Bars as Well

     It was Prohibition in the United States that convinced Jose Garcia Abeal, the original owner of Sloppy Joe’s to switch from food service to liquor service.   American tourists were coming to Havana for the nightlife, gambling and all the alcohol they could get their in a legal manner.

     Sloppy Joe's was welcoming tourists for over four decades, serving 80 cocktails plus the bar's own brand of 12-year-old rum.    During the 1940s and 1950s Sloppy Joe's was a magnet for American celebrities as well as tourists wanting to mingle with them.   It has been described as "one of the most famous bars in the world" with "almost the status of a shrine." by the Los Angeles Times.    The Cuban Revolution of 1959 saw the bar's business take a nosedive, with 90% of Sloppy Joe's clientele being Americans, who had been banned from Cuba.


     A fire in the 60’s closed the establishment for good.   The building in which the bar was housed remained intact, resembling a ghost town with its single-piece mahogany bar and photos of celebrities.    The slow-paced, extensive restoration, undertaken by The Office of the Historian of Havana, began in 2007.    Located on the corner of Calle Animas and Zulueta in Old Havana, just  behind the Plaza Hotel.

     The bar, was the part of the set for the movie Our Man in Havana starring Alec Guinness,  Sloppy Joe’s is the bar in which the character (Jim Wormold) was approached enter into the secret service.

    Renovation work on Sloppy Joe's was completed in April of 2013, and its doors opened to the public on April 12th.    The facade closely resembles the images from the 1950s, down to the sign on the corner, above the arches. 

  The really great news is that they are still serving the fine cocktails that made Sloppy Joe’s famous in the first place.  I spent several afternoons and evenings there enjoying the people that work there and their wonderful cocktails.  ;o)