Troy Hightower

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Stong Cuban Drink

The town of  Trinidad on Cuba's southern coast is a UNESCO World Heritage site which contains many historic buildings. A block and a half west of the main plaza on the Calle Martinez Villena is La Canchanchara, a long narrow arcaded bar housed in a mansion built in 1723. La Canchanchara is a famous bar serving a local drink called by the same name--Canchanchara--a beverage both smooth and strong made with clear aguardiente, honey, lime, water and ice. Served in squat clay cups, this fiery drink is said to have been originated by the Mambises, the guerrilla Cuban independence soldiers who fought against Spain in the Ten Years War which ended in 1878



There are dark wood benches facing each other the length of the shaded patio, in the rear of which a dozen or so locals argue at the top of their range about national baseball, gesticulating with cigars and the squat clay cups that bring the chanchancha.   At the end of the bar, the band Son Trinitario blasts out a driving beat.  Like Havana, music is ubiquitous in Trinidad-mostly traditional Cuban Son, and salsa.

 The drink itself is refreshing and fortifying--not unlike a Pisco sour, and certainly a welcome cooling respite from the strong Caribbean sun pounding the cobbled streets of Trinidad.

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