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You won't be-leaf it! These Cuban bartenders have been making cocktails from native plants

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bartender Dagoberto Jesus Morejon prepares a "Martini de Oro," or Golden Martini, a cocktail using a plant endemic to Cuba called the "Orozus de la Tierra."
bartender Dagoberto Jesus Morejon prepares a "Martini de Oro," or Golden Martini, a cocktail using a plant endemic to Cuba called the "Orozus de la Tierra."   -   Copyright  Ismael Francisco/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Cuban bartenders Manuel Alejandro Valdés and Dagoberto Jesús Morejón are passionate about cocktails.

But due to a shortage of syrups or liquor on the Caribbean island, the pair decided to prepare drinks made from native plants.

Malva de caballo, Orozuz de la Tierra, Flor de Majagua (Hibiscus elatus) or Abre Caminos (Koanophyllon villosum) -- a species associated with Santeria rituals -- are some of the ingredients they use for their recipes at The Bartenders Association bar in Havana.

Ismael Francisco/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Bartender Dagoberto Jesus Morejon prepares a "Martini de Oro," or Golden Martini, a cocktail using the plant endemic to Cuba called the "Orozus de la TierraIsmael Francisco/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

"Cuba at the moment is like a gold mine with lots of untapped resources," says Morejón. "We are working with the land on our project. In another country, we might just be two more bartenders."

Then they launched the project a year ago with the Association of Bartenders of the island and have created a business to distribute syrups made from their plants.

Together with specialists from the Botanical Association of Cuba they identified about 50 plants with the potential to be used in their drinks.

Ismael Francisco/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Bartenders Dagoberto Jesus Morejon, right, and Manuel Alejandro Valdes, look at native plants they harvest to prepare their cocktails, on a farm east of HavanaIsmael Francisco/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

At first, they planted them in pots and flowerbeds at their homes or collected them from the surrounding area. Now they cultivate the species they need on a farm outside of Havana.

Two of their floral creations, "Exotic Island" and "Autóctono" have won recognition and prizes in international competitions.