The Booze Blog Portal - Alcohol, Bars, Malaysia and Beyond.

24 February 2015

The IBA Project: Cuba Libre

Everything you need for a Cuba Libre. I had of course, finished the Coke only to remember that I haven't taken a picture.

The Grandfather Story:
The recipe of this cocktail might have originated from Cuba around the late 1800s. The original drink was said to have been made with cuban rum and a dark syrup mixture of kola nuts & coca.

The name apparently came about when an American captain proposed a toast with the drink (which became rum, coke and a squeeze of lime) around 1900 in a Havana bar filled with American soliders - "Por Cuba Libre", they would cheer, and cuba libre means "free cuba". This was just after cuba's war of independence with the Spanish.

This very disputed story was re-told by a famous rum company. There is a comprehensive article which disputes this, and yet another article which refutes this dispute, lol.

Well, whatever the story, the cocktail's yummy. :)

One thing that's for sure is this : rum and coke which the Americans drink has been mistakenly also been called the cuba libre. It is a mistake, BECAUSE IT LACKS ONE VERY IMPORTANT INGREDIENT: the lime!

I am not a rum and coke. I'm a Cuba Libre!
Strength & Taste:
It's rum . and coke. with lime. The lime sort of offsets the (sometimes too) sweet coke. I don't know how does one not enjoy this drink. Unless you're passionately against coke. or rum. or lime. or life.

IBA standard recipe & method:
5 cl White Rum
12 cl Cola
1 cl Fresh lime juice

Build all ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with lime wedge.

  • Try it with any gold/dark rum....but keep it to the lower end rum. You wouldn't really want to mix your expensive extra old rum with coke now do you? 
  • How about go nuts and try it with spiced rum, even! It's different but still delicious! 
  • Most recipes asks for fresh lime wedges - I'm sure there's no hard and fast rules of how many limes you wanna put in it. As you please!
  • If you ran out of limes and only have lemons at home, give the lemon a go! Keep in mind that limes are typically more sour than lemon, though.
  • Since this is essentially a cuban drink, you might want to just stick to cuban rum, if you're anal like that. But I'm not.
  • Came across recipes that even calls for a couple of dashes of bitters - which I quite liked!
Coke a doodle do. Any rum will do.
Thoughts & Observations:
  • Use fresh coke - you want that fizzy co2!
  • Don't use wet ice, it melts too fast. Try and get the ones that are still rock solid dry from the freezer.
  • Please don't just dump the lime wedge into the drink without squeezing it. SQUEEZE THEN DUMP (the lime)!
  • I prefer a darker rum than white. The former tastes more mellow & well-rounded. 
  • I learnt a new way to squeeze the lime wedge! Check this out:
On the left is how we usually squeeze lime. The juices goes directly into the glass and is quite fuss-free. The method on the right apparently also gets the lovely oils from the skin out into the glass apart from the juice - BUT the juice may get into your eye. Which one do you prefer?

My Preference:
50ml dark/gold rum
Ice cubes to fill up a tall glass - fresh from the freezer, not the ones already melting.
2 lime wedges - remove the seeds.
Straw (for drinking or stirring)
2 dashes of bitters (optional)

pour rum into the tall glass filled with ice.
squeeze in 1 wedge into the drink before dropping it into the glass. give it a couple of stirs.
top it up with coke and squeeze the other wedge before dropping it into the glass.
stir some more to make sure that the rum at the bottom merges well with the coke.
(otherwise when you deep the straw in, all you'll be getting is limed rum lol). 


Check this quite entertaining video by Jamie Oliver's guest bartender from Cuba on the Cuba Libre:

Sources & for more:

Click me for the list of drinks that's been covered in the IBA Project