hfxjohn asked about bars on another thread so I thought I’d re-post this pub crawl.
It’s suitable for light drinkers and first time visitors. John, I think the Castillo de Farnes, Bar Monseratte, La Lluvia de Oro and several others would work for you.
1.) Start in the rooftop bar at the Inglaterra Hotel – great view of Parque Central, Gran Teatro, etc. Quiet, no one to bug you. Great mojitos. Have one and move on.
2.) Go down to street level and have another cocktail at their sidewalk patio bar, the Galeria La Acera del Louvre. Watch the street action. Lots to take in, but again, you’re slightly removed from it.
Head directly across the street, through Parque Central, past the large groups of shouting men who are just about ready (it appears) to kill each other. Don’t worry, they’re simply discussing baseball. If you really want to see some drama, put a video camera on them - their decibel level (and hand gestures) will triple .
3.) Continue straight ahead past the Art Museum until you get to the famous landmark (and tourist trap) the El Floridita where Hemingway spent a lot of time slurping back daiquiris. Wander in, have a look and an overpriced daiquiri if you must.
4.) Exit, turn left, and at the end of the block (corner of Monseratte and Obrapia) there’s two good bars, the open air Castillo de Farnes and the Bar Monseratte where you enter through an old fashioned saloon style swinging door.
5.) The Castillo de Farnes is a great people watching bar, the Bar Monseratte will be less hassle, and it has decent pub food and usually a pretty good band.
6.) Head back a couple of blocks to Obispo and take a right turn. There’s several bars along this stretch. Go into any of them that are rockin’. One of my favourites is the La Lluvia de Oro. Lots of tourists and well connected hustlers, many times a good band.
7.) Continue down Obispo to the Café Paris. It’s similar to the La Lluvia de Oro with good music and decent pizzas.
8.) Exit and make a right turn, south from Obispo, and enjoy a leisurely stroll down San Ignacio for 4 blocks until you reach Plaza Vieja. It has a lovely fountain (quite rare in Havana) in the centre. In the southwest corner is a trendy European style place that has its own micro-brewery, the Taberna de la Muralla. They have beer drinking contraptions that are about a metre high – you might need a friend to help you finish it.
9.) Go the northeast corner of the Plaza and you’ll find one of my favourite classy restaurant/bars, the Taberna Beny More. Wonderful place.
10.) Exit and turn right, following a beautifully restored street, Mercaderes, back 3 blocks to Obispo, then another block further to O’Reilly. Turn left, and two blocks later slip into the Bar Bilbao. It was Old Havana’s last great peso bar on the tourist trail and it’s unfortunately a CUC bar now, but the restoration is nice and it gets a laid back crowd.
After the 10 cocktail warm-up you’ve enjoyed to this point you should be ready for some serious drinking by now so go one block south back to Obispo, then walk back to Parque Central. The night is still young and you have loads of time to start some serious drinking and dancing…
PS El Gallo is a hidden gem just off the beaten path that I rarely see mentioned. It’s on Calle Obrapia by Calle Habana. I had a very interesting time there a couple of nights ago…