Last week, we showed you how to make a Long Island Iced Tea. Today, we’ll focus on the Cuba Libre (otherwise known as Rum & Coke) – a caffeinated alcoholic beverage made of cola, lime, and (spiced or light) rum.
The main difference between the Cuba Libre and Rum & Coke is lime. The former has it, the latter doesn’t.
History of the Cuba Libre
According to cocktail historians Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown in their 2012 book Cuban Cocktails, the Cuba Libre name originated in the mid-19th century, when Cubans fought for independence from Spain.
During the Ten Years War from 1868-1878, fighters drank a beverage named Cuba Libre, which is said to be a combination of honey or molasses and water. Miller says aguardiente (a generic name for alcohol) was probably part of the mix.
The term came into heavier use after the Spanish-American War, when U.S. soldiers and businesses came to Cuba. One of those businesses was the then-new Coca-Cola, which began sending its cola syrup to Cuba in 1902.
Over the years since its inception, the Cuba Libre has developed many variations, including the following:
- The Cuba Campechana (“half-and-half Cuba”) comprises of one part rum with equal parts of club soda and cola.
- The Cuban Missile Crisis is like a regular Cuba Libre, except it uses a higher-proof rum like Bacardi 151 (75.5%).
- The Cuba Light made with rum and Diet Coke.
- The “Hot” Cuba Libre includes Caribbean hot sauce (e.g. Capt’n Sleepy’s Quintessential Habanero, or Matouk’s).
- The Cuba Pintada (“stained Cuba”) is one part rum with two parts club soda and cola that tints the club soda.
- The Captain Pepper is made with Captain Morgan and Dr. Pepper.
- The Midas variant substitutes cream soda and spiced rum to create a gold-hued beverage.
- Another variation is the use of golden/dark rum. It’s commonly used in Venezuela.
- Enjoyed by scuba divers and water sports enthusiasts is the Scuba Libré, which includes Tank Rum, cola, ice, and lime.