The Cuba Libre
Simple, Tropical, and Classic
The Cuba Libre is a true guilty pleasure drink for us. At its most exalted, it can be described as having subtle vanilla and cinnamon notes, supported by baking spices, banana peel, and raisins, rounded out with bright acidity and tang from fresh lime juice. At its most basic, you can think of it as a fancy rum & Coke. But while it shares the same building blocks as the heavily binged club favorite, the Cuba Libre is a bit more grown up and better suited for casual escapism than reckless intoxication.
The origins of this drink are a little murky, but popular lore places the creation around the turn of the century during Cuba's fight for independence from Spain. Literally translated to "Free Cuba", Cuba Libre was a common rally cry–one that would certainly raise spirits in the form of a toast. It didn't take long before the mix of local lime juice, Cuban rum, and Coca-Cola made the 90 mile journey north to the Florida Keys along with the moniker Cuba Libre.
So does a fancy rum & Coke mean that you have to make your own cola syrup from scratch like The Greatest Japanese Bartender? Not at all! Used sparingly in a cocktail, cane sugar based colas like Mexican Coca-Cola are readily available at most grocery stores, and provide the same complex spice and sweetness you could hope for from any decadent simple syrup. It also makes for an incredibly easy drink to build correctly without having to carefully prepare ingredients.
Here's how to make the perfect Cuba Libre:
2 ounces Below Deck Silver Rum
2-3 fresh lime wedges
3-4 ounces Mexican Coca-Cola (or cane sugar cola)
Fill a tall collins glass with ice. Add rum and squeeze 2-3 lime wedges worth of juice into the glass. We also like to toss in the whole squeezed lime wedges for extra zest. Top it off with Mexican Coca-Cola and give it a brief stir with a bar spoon to mix it all up. Take your time with this classic and enjoy!