The Cuban Interests Section — which essentially functions as the Cuban embassy, though you can’t call it that, since the United States don’t have normal relations with the country — last year opened a Hemingway-themed bar. Since then, the bar, which is open during invite-only events, has earned a reputation in diplomatic circles for serving what might be the best mojito in town — if you can score one.
“The secret ingredient is spearmint,” says Jose Pertierra, a Cuban lawyer who lives in Washington and has swilled a few of the cult-famed concoctions. In less authentic establishments, mojitos might be made with any old mint, but spearmint, we’re told, is essential to the real article.
Wayne Smith, a former chief of mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, says the “mean mojito” and the bar’s focus on Ernest Hemingway — beloved by both Americans and Cubans — are savvy politics. “Stressing the links between the two countries is smart,” he says.
The Cubans apparently hope that communism goes down a little easier when it’s accompanied by fresh fruit juice and an icy splash of soda.
And the hand-rolled cigars — which invitees can puff with impunity on the grounds of the complex on 16th Street NW south of Columbia Road — are also said to be world-class.