HAVANA – Who says 9 a.m. is too early for a drink? Especially one that its makers believe will set a world record.
Cuban mixologists whipped up a giant daiquiri Saturday morning in the Old Havana tavern where the tropical cocktail was born and where regular barfly Ernest Hemingway made it popular.
"Ready!" cried TV news anchor Froylan Arencibia, on hand to narrate the festivities, as smartly dressed bartenders in red ties and jackets fired up a dozen blenders. "We're making history!"
For a half-hour, two waiters stood atop a wooden platform pouring pitcher after pitcher of the slushy rum, lemon and sugar concoctions into a 6.5-foot-tall (2-meter-tall) fiber-composite cocktail glass. A misty vapor wafted over the lip as the liquid neared the rim.
Organizers said that at around 71 gallons (270 liters), they believe they have set a world record. A jury on hand to judge the attempt included a Cuban man who holds the record for rolling the world's longest cigar, and he said organizers have been in touch with Guinness World Records about recognizing the monster daiquiri.
"This is a great spectacle, very interesting, and I think an activity that give us a little more prestige because I believe it will be recognized by Guinness," Jose Castelan Cairo said.
The event was staged to honor the 195th anniversary of the bar El Floridita, which means "Little Florida" in Spanish and bills itself as the "cradle of the daiquiri." The giant cocktail also honored the 113 years since the birth of its most famous frequent customer.
Legend has it that "Papa," who took his daiquiris without sugar, once downed 13 doubles in one sitting. El Floridita is a favorite among tourists tracing Hemingway's footsteps in Cuba, and bartenders always set out a daiquiri next to a statue of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist.
"The first one is for Hemingway!" organizer Somalia Perez yelled as waiters filled glasses for jury members to sample. The crowd sang Cuba's version of "Happy Birthday" to the writer sometimes referred to here as "Ernesto."
"This has been a truly marvelous spectacle," said Perez, head of Bodeguita del Medio, a nearby watering hole also favored by the novelist. "There has never been a better time than today, when we commemorate and celebrate Hemingway's birth."
A gala was planned later in the day to mark the 50th anniversary of the Hemingway Museum Foundation at Finca Vigia, the villa on the outskirts of Havana where the novelist lived from 1939 to 1960.
Hemingway willed the home to the Cuban people, and it has been preserved much the same as it was when he left the island.
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