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.
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?
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
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
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:
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.
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.
How to Craft a Cuba Libre Cocktail
Crafting a Cuba Libre requires no special skills and the following basic bar tools:
Fill a highball glass with ice.
You can use a lowball glass instead. However, a highball glass works better if you plan to sip your Cuba Libre with a straw.
Pour freshly squeezed lime juice directly into the ice-filled glass.
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.
Top the glass with Coca-Cola.
You could hypothetically use a different cola. However, Coca-Cola is the classic Cuba Libre cola that tastes great in this and other recipes.
Gently stir and garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.
Cuba Libre Drink Variations
Sipping a classic Cuba Libre make us happy and will likely make you happy too. However, feel free to try the following variations:
Cuba Libre Recipe
- 2 ounces aged rum
- 4 ounces Coca-Cola
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- lime wheel or wedge
- Fill highball glass with ice.
- Pour run and lime juice into the glass.
- Top off with cola.
- Gently stir.
- Garnish with a lime wheel or lime wedge.
- 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.
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Japanese Jigger - Premium Double Cocktail Jigger, 1oz/2oz made from Stainless Steel 304
OXO Good Grips Mini Angled Measuring Cup
Paksh Novelty Italian Highball Glasses [Set of 6] Clear Heavy Base Tall Bar Glass - Drinking Glasses for Water, Juice, Beer, Wine, Whiskey, and Cocktails | 13 Ounce Cups
Hiware LZS13B 12 Inches Stainless Steel Mixing Spoon, Spiral Pattern Bar Cocktail Shaker Spoon
Wusthof CLASSIC Paring Knife, One Size, Black, Stainless Steel
Chef'n FreshForce Citrus Juicer (Lemon)
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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.
Original Publication Date: September 22, 2022