Golden Age Cocktails

World Best Bar

Mar 17, 2018

golden age cocktails
Gin is not just a British obsession. Gin is a spirit that tickles the Spain and Cuban bartenders’ fancy as well. This spirit mixes well with a wide assortment of elements, ranging from sherries and vermouths to fruit brandies and fresh fruit.

As we were researching and writing our latest book, Cuban Cocktails (Mixellany Limited, ISBN 978-1-907434-10-5) over the past eight years, we realized that there are more than a few lost classics from Cuba’s Golden Age of Cocktails, which took place between the 1900s and 1950s. And those creations, crafted by the island nation’s cantineros (bartenders) are worth visiting as the days grow longer and the summer temperatures rise. Even if you can’t whisk yourself away to a tropical Caribbean paradise, you can savour the flavours on your balcony, in your garden, or on the rooftop.

Douglass Fairbanks Cocktail

Fred Kaufman hailed from Liverpool. But his heart lived on the high seas. Before he arrived at the Sevilla-Biltmore Hotel in Havana, he worked his way through bars in the Canary Islands and Madeira. But it was in Cuba where he came into his own. Working alongside Eddie Woelke, fresh from New York’s Hotel Knickerbocker, a lot of Kaufman’s creations were attributed to Woelke. The Douglas Fairbanks was one of them. But we know that Kaufman loved working with apricot brandy and pineapple juice, whereas Woelke’s repertoire was vermouth bound.

“He worked his way through bars in the Canary Islands and Madeira”

Gloria Swanson Cocktail

Another unique creation that Fred Kaufman created for another Hollywood A-lister was the Gloria Swanson Cocktail. This time, fresh strawberries took the starring role.

“Another unique creation”

Tango Cocktail

A remarkable drink that brings together the complex elements of gin, Italian vermouth, and apricot brandy was born in Cuba. The Tango Cocktail is a Cuban original that needs to be rediscovered. We found this version in a 1927 book El Arte de Hacer un Coctel y Algo Mas.

“A Cuban original that needs to be rediscovered”

Jai Alai

Our last serving is a refreshing long drink that is an easy serve whether you are watching an exhilarating game of jai alai or just basking on your patio. Its name gives you a hint of where it was originally served: The Jai Alai was the toast of the Havana Jai Alai fronton back when Basil Woon and other journalists cheered on this high-pitched Caribbean game.

“A refreshing long drink that is an easy serve”


Enjoy making and tasting this flight of refreshing summertime drinks that deserve to be rediscovered as the classics of Cuba’s Golden Age of Cocktails that they really are. We’ll see you on the vernanda. Linen suit optional, of course.


Written by Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown

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