"…como si la ciudad fuera mi mujer".
For Ale, thanks for the advice.
For Yadira ‘cause she’s gonna laugh.
They always laugh…
Two elements whose implications and repercussions lead to the writing of this paper:
Element 1: If the entire Island is a powerful “reality distortion field”, then havanian summer is its incarnation and climax.
Element 2: By the time of the night in question, AlaMesa, the mass movement, the group, the organization, the band, the gang... had just suffered a major casualty: our local bar was dead.
So we decided to go crazy.
The Plan: “its 11:00 pm, we change for a more casual outfit, load gear and go out to find a new place.”
Going downhill we passed the well known garage door. We dedicated it a languishing gaze: "RIP, Long Play, old friend and witness of memorable evenings. Such as the one in which we drank so much we detected an industrial design error in the tripod of the photographic camera”.
Right around the corner I managed to catch Bar Bohemio well of memory. Navigator set the course...
We pulled out undercarriage and hit the track.
The decoration of the “L” shaped portico of the colonial house, delimited by columns of semicircular arches, was simple and elegant. The music was discreet and there was a mix of furniture compiling overstuffed sofas strategically placed in the ends of the portico, with that so common kind of chairs and tables built in steel and wood by sadistic craftsmen to provide the average male with an opportunity to show muscles and virility to his partner.
So … Where is the waiter? We took the menu without anyone's permission while raising our eyebrows: most commonly if the waiter does not appear at the right time you can consider that as a sign that precedes many misfortunes.
Believe us ... we have lived more of an adventure.
However, there was movement, customers had been served and they seemed at ease.
Three minutes after this boy all in black came out. He gave us an extra menu, provided the due privacy, came back at the proper time.
The menu is basically a list of drinks with about 60 different preparations, so the act of choosing became pleasantly difficult. We asked for a advice on a vodka based cocktail.
And it was then when the waiter showed signs of life. He recommended combinations within the given base, helping us to find what we wanted by the flavor of the rest of the components of the cocktail. He knew those cocktails by heart. At the end, I wasn’t able to remember the thing I liked in the first place, so I ended up stuck. He muttered softly inviting "Caipiroska, Caipiroska*" and we took the hint on the fly.
It was a score for the waiter, who knew how to drive us to choose a cocktail simple enough to make a mistake almost impossible. He came back in a minute with a couple of those highball glasses labeled with the feared Havana Club emblem you can find anywhere in Cuba. It’s deep enough to drown and wide enough to get lost.
Like the women in my life.
The trick is to macerate the whole lemon over sugar so the taste of resin perfumes the drink. And do not add anyone else, after you mix these two ingredients, if you have already added the ice then go straight to Russia bypassing Western Europe.
No savories seduced us. That part of the menu seemed elaborated with the only purpose of making you stand from your seat and go check the welcome board where “plats du jour” where listed. That’s where we founded this highly recommended plate of fried manjuas served with lemon pieces.
The waiter discussed in fluent English about the gifts of Santiago rum brand with some tourists sitting at the next table.
From time to time he came over to check how we were doing. In the middle of one of this routine approaches, he introduced himself as Agustin Dominguez. Agustin takes his job quite serious; he knows his menu as well as he knows competition.
We chatted about the matter, honored some… and others… not so much. We shared little secrets.
For example, Bohemio’s standard crew has only 3 employees, in the average night; Agustin is the designated waiter of every table in the establishment. It doesn’t matter the amount of clients, he manages himself. The owner works as the barman and the chef is in the kitchen taking care of savories. And that’s it.
It’s quite remarkable the way they manage the rhythm of the interaction with every client. I might just got lucky with that, or they truly know their business, have muscle memory.
In any case, the night in question wasn’t a particularly challenging one.
He gave us a tour through the entire place, showing us the rest of the rooms. We asked for a second cocktail, for we already had half of the manjuas and the night was auspicious: a beer served in a pilsner glass with golden arabesque and a Cubanito**, again in one of those bloody highballs.
The latter sparked a discussion with Agustin about the dangers of substituting tomato juice with Kermato in cocktails. And what is this clam doing in my Bloody Mary anyway? We all agreed… end of story.
I explored the portico. A neoclassical cupboard served as a bookshelf: Borges ( “El Aleph” ), Juan Salvador Gaviota, Milan Kundera, Jose Saramago, Dostoievski…
Caipiroskas & Dostoievskis… now that makes sense.
I admit without blushing that I tried to open the glass door of the cupboard... Closed. A necessary measure.
We danced under the starlight:
“As strong as you were, tender you'll go
I'm watching you breathing, for the last time
A song for your heart, but when it is quiet
I know what it means and I'll carry you home…”
I cannot dance (is a genetic disposition) and I pretty much hate James Blunt (sorry fans, nothing personal) but it seemed appropriate and I got carried away. Damn Russians!
Average Price is a fair 0 to 7, they prideful do not charge that 10% for service, that becomes so shocking sometimes. No… always. Perception: A positive environment, simple but elegant décor, solid bar, eating is not the main idea so they manage all right and the service happens to be one of the strengths of the place.
* Caipiroska is a variation of famous Brazilian cocktail Caipirinha. In this case, aguardiente or cachaza are replaced with vodka. 60 ml of vodka, 2 lemons, a tablespoon of brown or granulated sugar. The lemon is sliced into pieces, placed over the ice and macerated adding sugar and completing with vodka.
Cubanito **: ice, 7.5 ml of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, 1 drop of hot sauce, 3 drops of Worcestershire sauce, 45 ml white rum 90 ml tomato juice.
Alchemist, blotter, revisionist and drinker