Ask any Cuban bus, taxi driver or tourist guide and they’ll all tell you the same story. They’re not to be found at Havana’s grand Hotel Nacional or at the 5 star Melia Cohiba Hotel. Neither will you bump into them at one of Hemingway’s old haunts, La Bodeguita del Medio, nor at the lovely El Floridita (home of the daiquiri). No senor. They are tucked away – like many of life’s little mysteries – beside a small coffee stop-over on the main coast road to Jibacoa – about an hour east of Havana. You can easily miss the whole experience if you’re not careful – but please don’t.
These wonderful PC’s at El Penon will get your toes tapping and hips swaying (thanks to a fine, live traditional band, plus how much rum you add!) before you can even say ‘salsa’, let alone dance it. Fan yourself as freshly blended pineapple, milk and coconut water frothily fills your long, iced glass. Smile approvingly as a full bottle of 3 year old Havana Club (rum) is swiftly slapped down alongside and then, simply, add to taste. And do, por favor, have two if you’re not driving!
Pina Colada – 2.50cucs per glass; Fresh coconut – 2cucs; Coconut water – 1cuc.
El Penon. 3 or 4 miles past Santa Cruz and 2 miles before Jibacoa beach (home to Breezes Superclub Hotel).