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Cuba Libre Cocktail Recipe

The Cuba Libre cocktail takes Rum & Coke to new heights with the simple addition of fresh lime juice. Read on to discover the dubious history of this popular rum cocktail plus an easy Cuba Libre recipe that you’ll want to follow again and again.

Cuba Libre Cocktail with Striped Straw

While the Cuba Libre’s name sounds exotic, this popular cocktail is as easy to craft as it is to drink. Its recipe only has a few ingredients and requires no special equipment. But its taste is why we love the Cuban cocktail so much.

To say that we love the Cuba Libre is an understatement. In fact, Daryl has declared the simple sipper to be his new favorite cocktail. This declaration should be no surprise if you know that he’s a big Coca-Cola fan.

Will Cuba’s national drink become one of your favorites too? The only way to find out if you love the Cuba Libre is to give it a try.

What Is a Cuba Libre Cocktail?

Cuba Libre with Rum Bottle and Coke Can
The Cuba Libre is a cocktail that melds simple sweet cola with rich rum and zippy lime juice.

A Cuba Libre is a three-ingredient cocktail crafted with aged rum, Coca-Cola and freshly squeezed lime juice.

Yes, this Cuban cocktail simply sounds like a Rum and Coke crafted with lime. Technically, that’s what it is. However, the lime juice elevates the Cuba Libre to become its own thing.

Taking things further, the Cuba Libre is a next-level cocktail when it’s crafted with high-quality rum and freshly squeezed lime juice. Plus, it’s way classier to order Cuba Libre at a bar than it is to order a Rum & Coke.

History of the Cuba Libre Cocktail

Crafted Cuba Libre
It takes longer to read about the Cuba Libre’s history than it takes to craft the Cuban cocktail at home.

Based on its name which literally translates to Free Cuba, it’s no revelation that the Cuba Libre has Cuban roots. These roots exceed a century and have a connection to two key events, namely the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the introduction of Coca-Cola to Cuba in 1900.

While there are plenty of colorful stories regarding who invented the Cuba Libre and where it was first imbibed, nobody knows the drink’s precise origin. And what about the drink’s name? Perhaps Cuba Libre was a rallying cry related to the recent war or maybe it was just an ironic phrase used to toast good times with good friends.

Either way, there’s no debate that this Cuban rum drink has passed the test of time. Equally important, it passed our lazy mixology taste test with flying colors.

Cuba Libre Ingredients

Cuba Libre Ingredients
You only need rum, Coca-Cola, lime and ice (not pictured) to craft a Cuba Libre cocktail.

The Cuba Libre’s ingredient is as short and sweet as the drink itself. In fact, it’s possible to count the following necessary ingredients on one hand:

  • Rum
  • Coca-Cola
  • Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • Ice Cubes
  • Lime Wheel or Wedge (for garnish)

You probably already have this handful of ingredients in you home bar or pantry. However, you may want to purchase a better bottle of rum for this recipe.

Cuba Libre with Bottle of Havana Club Anejo Especial Rum
It’s not hyperbole to state that using Havana Club Ańejo Especial Cuban Rum brought maximum flavor to our Cuba Libre.

Before crafting our first Cuba Libre cocktail, we purchased a bottle of Havana Club Ańejo Especial Cuban Rum with a 40% ABV.

Double aged in oak barrels and with flavors that include cinnamon, orange and vanilla, this golden Cuban rum adds a smooth complexity to our Cuba Libre cocktails that we love. We plan to sip this tasty rum on the rocks – it’s that good – when we’re not in the mood for cocktails.

Don’t despair if you can’t purchase Cuban rum where you live. Use a different rum instead. Havana Club Añejo Clássico Rum, a golden rum that’s produced and aged in Puerto Rico, is a great option.

Buy a bottle of Havana Club Añejo Clásico at Drizly or Total Wine if you’re located in the US.

How to Craft a Cuba Libre Cocktail

Cuba Libre Mis en Place
It only took us two minutes to craft a Cuba Libre cocktail after we assembled these necessary tools and ingredients.

Crafting a Cuba Libre requires no special skills and the following basic bar tools:

You can improvise if you’re missing either required bar tool. For example, you can use a small angled measuring cup instead of a jigger. You can also use a long spoon if you don’t have a bar spoon.

Discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.

Adding Ice to Cuba Libre
We moved quickly after we filled this glass with ice. Otherwise, the ice would have melted and diluted the drink’s simple flavors.

Fill a highball glass with ice.

Pro Tip
You can use a lowball glass instead. However, a highball glass works better if you plan to sip your Cuba Libre with a straw.

Pouring Lime Juice into Cuba Libre Recipe
We squeezed lime juice into a small angled measuring cup before we poured it into our highball glass.

Pour freshly squeezed lime juice directly into the ice-filled glass.

Pro Tip
You can optionally muddle a lime. Either way, the key is to use a fresh lime when you craft a Cuba Libre cocktail.

Measure the rum and pour it into the glass. For this step, we recommend using a Japanese jigger to ensure accurate measurements and avoid spillage.

Purchase a Japanese jigger if you don’t have a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.

Pouring Coca Cola into Cuba Libre
Pouring Coca-Cola straight from the can is the way to go in this Cuba Libre drink recipe.

Top the glass with Coca-Cola.

Pro Tip
You could hypothetically use a different cola. However, Coca-Cola is the classic Cuba Libre cola that tastes great in this and other recipes.

Crafted Cuba Libre Cocktail with Rum and Coke
Adding a lime wheel or wedge is the final step. After this step, all that’s left to do is sip and smile.

Gently stir and garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.

Cuba Libre Drink Variations

Cuba Libre Cocktail with Black Background
The Cuba Libre is perfect just the way it is. However, your tasted buds may prefer a variation.

Sipping a classic Cuba Libre make us happy and will likely make you happy too. However, feel free to try the following variations:

  • Replace the Coca-Cola with Diet Coke to craft a reduced calorie Cuba Libre cocktail.
  • Use Mexican Coca-Cola if you can find a can or bottle.
  • Omit lime juice to craft a basic Rum & Coke cocktail.
  • Replace Coca-Cola with ginger beer to craft a Dark & Stormy cocktail.
  • Go rogue and craft a different Cuban cocktail like a Hemingway Daiquiri or Mojito instead.

Cuba Libre Recipe

Cuba Libre Cocktail with White Background

Cuba Libre

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes

Learn how to craft a Cuba Libre cocktail at home in just a couple minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces aged rum
  • 4 ounces Coca-Cola
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • lime wheel or wedge
  • ice

Instructions

  1. Fill highball glass with ice.
  2. Pour run and lime juice into the glass.
  3. Top off with cola.
  4. Gently stir.
  5. Garnish with a lime wheel or lime wedge.

Notes

  • You'll want to cut the wheel or wedge before you squeeze the lime.
  • We use Havana Club Añejo Especial Cuban rum but you can use your favorite rum instead.
  • We use Coca-Cola but you could use another cola brand. You could also use Diet Coke.
  • We use a highball glass. However, you can use a lowball/rocks glass instead.
About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Original Publication Date: September 22, 2022

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