After about a month of staying in Havana, we were taking a week-long trip outside of the city, to some of the central provinces in the breath-taking island country. Our first stop was Santa Clara, where I was first introduced to the casa particular concept, basically a Cuban Bed & Breakfast. We arrived in Santa Clara after dusk, and it was hard to see, not necessarily because of the darkness, but because of the dust. I imagined that the dust was from the city’s centuries of history and revolutionary battles, but I’m not sure such a virtuous reason is accurate. Anyways, we arrived on a narrow street filled with tan colonial houses and our curly-haired instructor knocked on the door. The woman who opened the door smiled, almost screamed with excitement, and hugged Humberto. She invited us all in and showed us immediately to our rooms. They were simple, with four walls, colorful bed sheets, and twin beds, but were just what we all needed after the long drive over bumpy roads. As we were opening our suitcases, ready to turn in for the night, a man with the same face as the woman, but older, stopped at the door, smiled at us, and welcomed us in Spanish. We smiled back and nodded, rendered speechless by our exhaustion.
The next morning we woke up refreshed, and like I said, it was a bed and breakfast, so we were prepared to truly stuff our faces with homemade Cuban cuisine. We all rose up the staircase to the top floor of the house and sat down to eat. I don’t remember much about the actual food, but I remember it was the first time really drinking fresh guava (guayaba) juice. After my first sip, I had one of those moments where you drink something and aren’t really sure that you like it, but for some reason you can’t stop drinking it and you end up becoming obsessed with it. Does anyone else do that? Anyways, I drank the whole glass of that sweet pink nectar, fresh from the fruit, and then asked for more.
For some reason, I never had a cocktail with fresh juice in Cuba, despite the plethora of fresh-squeezed juices on street carts, in counter stalls, hotels, and of course, casas particulares. The only plausible reason I can conjure up for this depressing lack of juice and liquor combinations is that they make my husband run to the bathroom immediately in a bad way, and I was usually drinking with him. Despite this, he has assured me there are drinks that are popular among habaneros that use all kinds of fresh juices.
I played with this cocktail a bit to get the right balance of flavor and I ended up becoming very fond of mixing the guava juice with orange juice; it just made the guava juice’s nuanced flavor stand out even more. Of course, cocktails are super customizable, and can be easily adjusted by the drinker or server. So after all of this chatter, finally, here is the recipe for the Guava Orange Cocktail, perfect for any party you may be attending today. I, personally, feel exceptionally ready to party today, because here in the Northeast it is supposed to be GORGEOUS this weekend, and I can’t wait to get outside, bust out the patio furniture, and make this drink. I hope you have a wonderful, possibly-liquored, start to your weekend!
Guava Orange Cocktail
Notes: These measurements are for one good-sized cocktail. If you were making this for a crowd in a pitcher, I would adjust the measurements so that in the end you would have half orange juice, half guava juice, probably about 1/2 lime per serving/drink you are planning to have, rum to your discretion, and probably a cup or two of seltzer to top it off. These are perfect to eat with tostones.
- orange juice
- guava juice
- 1 lime
- ice cubes
- something to mix with
- Cut a lime in half, cut one half into slices for garnishes, and save the other half for the cocktail.
- Mix 3 ounces of orange juice and 3 ounces of guava juice together.
- Add 1 ounce of rum, and then 1 ounce of seltzer.
- Garnish with a lime slice, serve over ice, and enjoy!