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.
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.