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Key West Bars

hemingway“Sloppy Joe’s was Papa’s favorite haunt. Barefoot, with his shorts cinched with a rope and wearing a ragged T-shirt, he would make the trek down Duval after a six-hour writing jag . . . Sometimes Hemingway came alone and sat at the end of the long, curving bar, making notes. Josie Grunts (as Ernest called him) would be there, and Skinner, the 300-pound bartender, would fix a ‘Papa Dobles’: 2 1/2 jiggers of white Bacardi rum, the juice from half a grapefruit and two key limes, and 6 drops of maraschino. Skinner, ‘the giant black handyman with his Louis Armstrong smile, could always cadge a drink by squatting under the piano and lifting it off the floor for a few seconds.’ He was Joe’s regular drinkmaker and worked at Sloppy’s until he died in 1949.” —Sloppy Joe’s Bar: The First Fifty Years, 1983, Sharon Wells