A branch of Revolucion de Cuba, the United Kingdom’s chain of Cuban style bar-restaurants, has opened at the Cloth Market in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Disclosure: Stuart Forster, the author of this article, was invited to participate in a cocktail mixing class at Revolucion de Cuba and retained full editorial control of this post. Revolucion de Cuba did not review or approve this article. Some of the links below, marked with a (£), are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Revolucion de Cuba’s official opening party was held on the evening of 6 July. Ahead of that, I was invited for a peek inside the newest addition to Newcastle’s buzzing nightlife scene.
The drinks menu features several rum-based cocktails while the food menu has several Cuban-inspired dishes.
Inside Revolucion de Cuba
The venue has bars on three levels, including a rooftop terrace. There’s also a patio area overlooking the Cloth Market.
An acoustic guitarist was strumming Latin tunes when I entered the spacious ground floor bar. Plans are in place for Revolucion de Cuba to host live music five evenings a week. I sipped a punchy strawberry daquiri while taking in the vibe.
Cocktails served here do not come with straws. In an environmentally conscious effort to minimise plastic waste, drinks served at Revolucion de Cuba are, instead, accompanied by a wooden spatula — something akin to a broad ice-lolly stick — for pushing back the ice when sipping.
Down in the Havana Bar
The cellar holds the Havana Bar, which opens to the public on weekends. Plans are afoot for the Havana Bar to host cocktail master classes and salsa dancing evenings. At other times, the room will be available to be hired for private and business events.
It’s a smartly furnished room. Framed black and white photographs show Fidel Castro and other figures of the 26 of July Movement at various stages during the Cuban revolution and its aftermath. Shutters, wood-clad walls and patterned tiles aim to recreate the atmosphere of a colonial era bungalow. Anyone sitting down to work their way through the 60 or so different types of rum stocked by Revolucion de Cuba can steady themselves utilising the leather padding on the bar and brass footrail.
On the Santiago Sun Terrace
The upper floor of Revolucion de Cuba has a retractable roof, its own bar and a fireplace. Heaters hang from the ceiling in readiness for use on chilly evenings. The Santiago Sun Terrace will be open during winter months too.
The walls of the stairwells bear artwork blending Cuban style with icons from the northeast of England.
A print of Alfred Korda’s famous photograph of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara with tussled hair and a beret hangs on the wall next to the log fireplace.
The menu served on the rooftop terrace features dishes termed ‘epic sharers’, including paella for four people.
I sampled several of the dishes from a menu that includes burritos and burgers. Cream Cajun mushrooms, calamari and smoky chicken skewers count among the tapas-style dishes available.
A cocktail making masterclass
While up on the sun terrace I was invited to participate in cocktail making masterclass led by Barney and Ross, mixologists who are in town to train Revolucion de Cuba’s bar staff.
Barney revealed that the duo know how to make around 150 different cocktails and proceeded to show me how to mix a mojito, the classic Cuban drink. “It’s one of the world’s most balanced cocktails,” he said while placing empty glasses on the bar at the beginning of the session.
He mixed together two shots of rum, a half-measure of lime plus a wedge of the tangy citrus fruit with two teaspoons of sugar. I learnt that slapping together a handful of mint awakens their aroma. He then mixed the ingredients together with crushed ice before topping the glass with yet more ice and a spring of mint as a garnish. Within seconds a ready-to-drink mojito stood on the bar.
Barney then invited me to follow his lead, blindfolded. The masterclass proved a fun way of getting to know other people as we were asked to get into pairs and work together (one blindfolded, one not) to mix a mojito. We then made other cocktails from the menu, picking up tips on how to improve our mixing as we went.
So, does Revolucion de Cuba have the vibe of an authentic Cuban rum bar? Don’t look to me for an answer to that question. I’ve never visited Cuba and, so far, have read only the first five pages of Dervla Murphy’s The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba (£). I can tell you that the mojito mixed by Barney hit the spot (£):
See the Revolucion de Cuba (1-3 Cloth Market, Newcastle upon Tyne; tel. 0191 917 7076) website for details about opening times and to view menus.
Looking for a cuisine other than Cuban? Take a look at this post for ideas about places to eat in Newcastle.
View the NewcastleGateshead website for ideas about things to do in Newcastle and neighbouring Gateshead.
Did you enjoy looking at the photos illustrating this post? They are by Why Eye Photography. Make contact via that website to commission food, event and portrait photography. Alternatively, call 07947 587136.
Stuart Forster, the author of this post, is an award-winning journalist who has had work published in the likes of Food and Travel magazine. He is based in the north-east of England and available to undertake commissions.
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