We’ve now made it to February, so (hopefully?) winter is halfway over! Even so, I’ve been more focused on warmer places and escaping winter by thinking back to my recent viaje down to Cuba. Enjoy these jams and tips for exploring Trinidad in Cuba—where the weather (and the chicos) are caliente all year. Trinidad is the birthplace of the signature Cuban drink canchanchara, which hasn’t made such an imprint up north like the mojito has.
While you’ll find this delicious honey and rum-based drink all over Trinidad, it’s said to have been founded at the restaurant of the same name. My advice is to start out with one at La canchánchara restaurant itself, then move to the calle for a botellón as you listen to sounds coming from La Casa de Música and connect to wifi in the Plaza. If you can’t connect, at least you’ll have easy access to several window bars serving up their own version of the canchanchara for 1.50 Cuban convertible pesos (about USD 1.70) to help deal with your internet connection woes. The weather may be nice in Cuba, but you’ll find yourself needing a few canchancharas to get through some of the unexpected frustrations and difficulties of navigating everyday life.
After canchanchara number 6, you’ll hopefully be ready to make your way to Disco Ayala just north of Trinidad’s Playa Mayor. The club is located inside of a cave (complete with active flora and fauna and a long and chaotic line of patrons waiting to get in. But don’t that dissuade you. The idea of being packed elbow to elbow inside of a club located inside of a damp underground cave seemed a little claustrophobic, but it turns out the porteros were just trying to make sure everyone in line paid before going in.
While inside the cueva you’ll hear an eclectic selection of music—salsa, reggaeton, and American Top 40, sure to please and get the diverse crowd bailando. But don’t expect to hear the same canciones that you’d hear in New York or Miami—the orgullo cubano comes through strong and the usual Pitbull songs are replaced by the Cuban reguetoneros Chacal and Jacob Forever. So enjoy the fiesta hasta que se seque el malecón—which you will definitely hear played at least once a day during your trip. As we were leaving Trinidad, a Turkish couple if the “Malecón” song had also become our favorite song during the trip.
If you can’t make it to Cuba, bring it home to you with this playlist of Cuba’s top songs and with this easy canchanchara recipe from Havana Club. You can keep the rum, honey, and music flowing from wherever you are. If you haven’t made it to Cuba yet to get your Havana Club, you can always substitute with Bacardi—we won’t tell.
2 oz. Havana Club Añejo 3 años
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. honey syrup
Shake all ingredients and strain into a glass with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge. Add a splash of club soda if you prefer the drink slightly less sweet. ¡Qué la disfrutes!
Bill O’Connor is an editorial assistant for HipLatina and Latin pop fanático. He can be found on snapchat @wro6278 singing along to his favorite canciones as he travels from Mexico City to Mumbai.