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Cuba Libre Cocktail

The Cuba Libre cocktail takes Rum & Coke to new heights with the simple addition of fresh lime juice. 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
Image: ©2foodtrippers

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. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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 taste test with flying colors.


Cuba Libre Ingredients
You only need rum, Coca-Cola, lime and ice (not pictured) to craft a Cuba Libre cocktail. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The Cuba Libre’s ingredient list 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. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Discover our favorite rum cocktails.

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. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The first step in this recipe is to 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.

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. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

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. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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

Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.

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.

Pouring Coca Cola into Cuba Libre
Pouring Coca-Cola straight from the can is the way to go in this Cuba Libre drink recipe. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Gently stir and garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.

Crafted Cuba Libre Cocktail with Rum and Coke
Image: ©2foodtrippers

Adding a lime wheel or wedge is the final step. After this step, all that’s left to do is sip and smile.


Cuba Libre Cocktail with Black Background
The Cuba Libre is perfect just the way it is. However, your tasted buds may prefer a variation. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Sipping a classic Cuba Libre makes 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.

Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Why is it called a Cuba Libre?

Cuba Libre literally translates to Free Cuba. This name may be related to the Spanish American War but nobody knows for sure.

Where was the Cuba Libre invented?


Is a Cuba Libre the same as a Rum u0026 Coke.

No. While the two rum cocktails are similar, the addition of fresh lime juice differentiates the Cuba Libre from the Rum u0026 Coke.

What are the ingredients in a Cuba Libre?

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

What’s the best rum for a Cuba Libre?

Aged rum is the best rum for this cocktail.

Is the Cuba Libre shaken or stirred?

The Cuba Libre is stirred, not shaken.

What type of glass is best for the Cuba Libre?

We like to serve this cocktail in a highball glass but you could use a lowball glass instead.

Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.

Cuba Libre Cocktail with Straw and White Background
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Cuba Libre Recipe

Learn how to craft a Cuba Libre cocktail at home in just a couple minutes.
Prep Time2 minutes
Total Time2 minutes
Course: Drink
Cuisine: Cocktail
Servings: 1
Calories: 176kcal


  • 2 ounces aged rum
  • 4 ounces Coca-Cola
  • ½ ounce lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • lime wheel or wedge
  • ice cubes


  • 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.

Pro Tips

  • 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.

Estimated Nutrition

Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 20mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 7IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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About the Authors

Daryl and 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. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
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.

We purchased the ingredients and tools used to craft this cocktail.

Original Publication Date: September 22, 2022

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