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Cover of 1939 edition of the novelty recipe booklet given to customers at Sloppy Joe’s.

Jose Abeal y Otero


Created and operated one of the most famous and enduring cocktail bars of all time

Jose Abeal emigrated to Havana from Galicia in 1904. He worked there first as a waiter, and then traveled, working in New Orleans and Miami, presumably in bars. Abeal eventualy returned to Havana and purchased a grocery store there named La Victoria, in 1918. Lore is that American friends began called him “Dirty Joe” or “Sloppy Joe” and he eventually adopted “Sloppy Joe’s” as his new brand. His establishment gradually evolved into a first-stop popular bar and hangout for American tourists vacationing in Cuba. In the 1930s and 1940s, the wildly successful bar began producing tiny souvenir drink recipe books for its customers. The bar remained popular for some forty years until the Cuban Revolution, and still exists, today. Abeal’s bar is tenuously related to the sandwich of the same name.

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