Situated on the corner of Calle Animas and Zulueta in Habana Vieja, Sloppy Joe’s welcomed tourists for decades and offered over 80 different cocktails, before a disappearing US clientele and a fire in the 1960s finally finished it off. It reopened in 2013 after being closed for decades.
In the 1960s, I very much doubt if everyday Cubans could have afforded to be in Sloppy Joe’s bar. It was a magnet for celebrities from the United States, as well as wannabe celebrity tourists. It was apparently described in the LA Times as “one of the most famous bars in the world” and 90% of the customers were from the US.
Today, the only change is that now the customers are 99% tourists from around the globe, and the prices reflect this, but do go and see the restoration. You’ll find memorabilia from the time and experience the arctic air conditioning they had back in the1960s too!
But now that Sloppy Joe’s is a tourist trap (funded by the Cuban state) and only designed with them in mind, I'm deeply embarrassed and ashamed of what it has become. I will never be seen inside again. This is not Habana, this is not Cuba, it’s just a transplanted bar from London, Paris or Rome.