Havana's iconic El Bar Floridita opens up its Daiquiri King competition to international bartenders for first time, amidst a detente between Cuba and the US. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Everything old is new again as international bartenders descend on Havana's iconic El Bar Floridita for the "King of Daiquiri" cocktail competition. And from the looks of it -- when it comes to Daiquiri's -- it's shaken not stirred as bartender John Christian Lermayer becomes the first American to compete for the Daiquiri King title in the bar made famous by Ernest Hemingway and his love of the bar's most famous drink, the daiquiri. With Cold War foes, Cuba and the US, reopening embassies and restoring ties Lermayer is a kind of Daiquiri diplomat. . (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMERICAN BARTENDER, JOHN CHRISTIAN LERMAYER, SAYING: "All I can do is go back to America and tell other American bartenders how warm and receptive that the Cuban bartenders are to us. You know I like to stay out of politics but I really like what president Obama is doing and I think it's going to, the doors are going to open for more and more Americans. I can tell you that the first group of Americans that are going to come here are bartenders.". The competition is stiff with bartenders from Puerto Rico and Argentina hoping for the crown. As a popular destination for American tourists before the Castro brothers took control, bar manager Ariel Blanco says it's a chance to build a future from the past. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BAR FLORIDITA MANAGER, ARIEL BLANCO, SAYING: " I think it is an important time to strengthen ties -- which is important to tourism." When it came time to crown the King the international field was no match for the home talent. Cuban Pedro Ivan Rodriguez is crowned Daiquiri King.