A Pre-Castro Place Where the Mojitos Are the Spirit of Choice

As fall sets in, we're reminded that the winter chill is not far behind. Since extending the summer by traveling to white, sandy beaches every few weeks is not feasible, we choose to imbibe cocktails that transport us to a more tropical state of mind. The mojito, a quintessential Cuban cocktail that blends mint, sugar, rum, lime, and seltzer, not only satiates our thirst but is so fragrant, sweet, and deceptively intoxicating that it makes the inevitability of the upcoming months much more bearable. Amid the frenzy that is Times Square sits Havana Central, a pre-revolutionary-style oasis with warm lighting, yellow walls, and a long mahogany bar. While seated barside, sample seven different types of mojitos ($8 to $9)—passion fruit, orange, and a pineapple-and-coconut combo are among the options, and each is more delectable than the last. Plus, bartenders here normally add grapefruit juice to the classic cocktail for a more complex flavor. After a few of these we'll be halfway to a sultrier destination—just ignore the nine-to-fivers, pre-theater folks, and tourists who swing by on occasion, and drink up fast.

 
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