La Canchanchara - The Flavour of Cuba

Vasijas Canchánchara en TrinidadWhen it comes to Cuban cocktails or drinks, the Mojito, Daiquiri, Cuba Libre and a few choice others are without doubt one of the things that make the island special. The Mojito is linked to the famous bar that proudly claims to have created the cocktail. La Bodeguita del Medio is a benchmark for Cubans around the world. However, the Daiquiri, can certainly not be separated from Ernest Hemingway’s character while The Floridita, a bar sometimes known as "Hemingway’s sip" which personally confuses me, since the literary master said in one of his writings that he was a regular at El Floridita Bar where he wet his letters with the Daiquiri cocktail. Ernest also made the Mojito popular by drinking it daily at La Bodeguita del Medio. I wish I had asked him which was his favorite.

Even though I have a passion for storytelling, it is not any of these cocktails I will focus on in this post. I prefer to talk of a Cuban drink that is not rooted in bars, pubs or entertainment venues of Havana, nor is it a beverage made by accident for the sake of mixing some ingredients. This most typically Cuban drink owes its birth to the Cuban Manigua in the eastern fields of the island, amid cries of war, revolution and struggle. A drink associated with the burdens of the machete and snap of the steels in the frenzy of battle. I am referring to the Canchánchara.

Local la Canchanchara trinidadToday the best example of this drink can be found in the city of Trinidad, where there is a tavern bearing its name: La Canchánchara. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city combining three centuries of architectural elements. The place is a tourist attraction that has been restored with a beautiful patio, tables and chairs and is accompanied by live Cuban music performances. And it is in Trinidad where this famous wood engraved verse is displayed:

"From ancient times you will find this drink, because from the Mambi was life, as a hard reality; it was reborn here in Trinidad with its excellent taste: canchachara, a burning gulp whose production involves lemon, honey and spirit".

That's why many think that this cocktail originated here but it’s quite not true. It was actually born in the eastern part of the Island at the time of the Independence Wars against Spain.

la canchancharaIt is said that during those struggles in the Cuban fields during the early 19th century, the Mambises (the Island Liberation Army soldiers) created the drink to fend off the cold and their hunger. It was originally drunk as a hot nourishing and invigorating ‘toddy’, which helped them to endure the chill and counteract the consequences of battle. Thus, the mixture of fiery ingredients, with its alcoholic base of rum, allowed them to warm their bodies and protect against respiratory diseases.

At present, the drink is served in a clay pot with ice to cool and is traditionally served in (and drunk from) a shared pot. La Canchánchara has become a symbol of historical Trinidad, and a favourite of international tourists, which will transport you to another era.

It is an easy beverage to prepare and the ingredients are very simple, so it can also be enjoyed at home where you can savor the delicious and refreshing taste of the Caribbean island. You can find the recipe below:

  • 2 ounces of rum
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Crushed ice

Pour honey with lemon juice and stir until the honey ha dissolved. Add the liquor and ice. Stir well.

I hope you liked this post and that you’re looking forward to testing this delicious cocktail. And if you’re heading to Cuba ... do not hesitate ... we are in La Canchánchara tavern.

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