cuba libre

BACK TO BASICS Sometimes the best cocktails can be deceptively simple. Such is the Cuba Libre. Created as a spontaneous tribute to Cuban freedom over a century ago, the original Cuba Libre represents the perfect synergy of pure Bacardi® Gold Rum and America's Coca-Cola®, balanced with the addition of tart lime. Ordering a generic rum and cola usually begets a poor imitation. To taste the Cuba Libre as it was originally created is to appreciate why its popularity spans generations. Easy-to-mix and reliably refreshing, the Cuba Libre however allows no room for compromise.

THE CUBA LIBRE TODAY

Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Squeeze in the juice of the lime wedges and add them to the glass. Add Bacardi® Gold Rum and top with Coca-Cola®. Stir gently.

FRESH TAKES

Try these simple ways to take this classic cocktail in new directions.
  1. Add a dash each of Bombay Sapphire® Gin and Angostura bitters to make a Cuba Libre Preparado.
  2. Add a dash of vanilla syrup.
  3. Replace Bacardi® Gold with Bacardi® Oakheart Spiced Rum for an Oak & Coke.
  4. Replace half of the Coca-Cola® with club soda to make the Cuba Campechana.

HISTORY OF THE CUBA LIBRE

1862 Bacardi is founded by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó in Santiago de Cuba, where he soon revolutionizes rum production by developing the world's first smooth, light-bodied spirit, perfect for mixing.

1886 John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, creates a caramel-colored liquid and combines it with carbonated water to make a refreshing drink, selling it for a nickel a glass under the name Coca-Cola®.

1900 American soldiers gathered at the American Bar in Havana combine Bacardi® Gold with lime wedges and the exotic new beverage called Coca-Cola®, naming it for the battle cry of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders: Cuba Libre!

1920 The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the production and sale of alcohol, driving Americans to nearby nations like Cuba, where they enjoy refreshing Bacardi® rum cocktails such as the Cuba Libre.

1939 The Pump Room, a celeb-studded restaurant where movie stars congregate in the exclusive Booth No. 1, opens in Chicago's Ambassador East Hotel. It is reputed that a guest of The Pump Room, unable to find a swizzle stick, is the first to stir the Bloody Mary with a celery stick.

1942 With America active in World War II, sugar rationing begins on the homefront and U.S. distillery production is diverted to the war effort. Bacardi® Rum and Coca-Cola® are affordable and in good supply.

1945 Set to a calypso rhythm, "Rum and Coca-Cola®," recorded by the Andrews Sisters, spends 10 weeks at the top of Billboard's U.S. Pop Singles chart, and the new name quickly becomes synonymous with Cuba Libre.

1988 Starring as novice bartender Brian Flanagan in Cocktail, Tom Cruise frantically looks up the recipe for a Cuba Libre in a cocktail book before lashing out at the waitress, "Why didn't you just tell me it was a rum and Coke!"

EVOLVING WITH INNOVATION

2014 SAN FRANCISCO THE CUBA LIBRE OLD-FASHIONED BY MATT GRIPPO

During a recent trip to Cuba, Matt Grippo, general manager of Blackbird in San Francisco, fell in love with the Cuba Libre. Upon returning to the U.S., he was inspired to recast the refreshing tropical taste of the Cuba Libre as an old-fashioned cocktail, a popular choice at Blackbird.

Grippo began by reducing Coca-Cola® over low-heat, but wasn't happy with the result. "There are actually several formulas for Coca-Cola®. I've always been parital to the Mexican Coke from my taqueria, made with cane sure, and this also yielded the best syrup." he says, noting that he adds complexity by tossing in fresh zest of orange and lemon and whole peppercorns. Combined with rum and a lime twist, it's an intensely flavored tribute to the classic. "Cuba Libre is among the oldest cocktails, something everyone should drink! I just wanted a new way to enjoy it," he beams.

Make it yourself:
  • 2 parts Bacardi Superior Rum
  • 1/4 parts Coca-Cola® syrup
  • 1 lime twist
  • In a rocks glass with several large ice cubes add 2 parts Bacardi Superior Rum and 1/4 part Coca-Cola® syrup. Stir gently and garnish with a lime twist.

For Coca-Cola® syrup:
  • 12 oz. Coca-Cola®, cane sugar version
  • 1/2 lemon, zest of
  • 1/2 orange, zest of
  • 6-10 whole peppercorns

Add all ingredients to a sauce pan over low heat and stir gently. Reduce to about 1/4 of original volume and put aside to cool. Strain solids from the syrup using a fine mesh strainer.