Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre
IBA Official Cocktail
A Cuba Libre served in a short tumbler.
Type Mixed drink
Primary alcohol by volume
Served On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish

lime wedge

Standard drinkware
Highball Glass (Tumbler).svg
Highball glass
IBA specified ingredients*
  • 100 mL Cola
  • 50 mL White rum
Preparation Build all ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with lime wedge.

The Cuba Libre (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkuβa ˈliβɾe], English: /ˈkjuːbə ˈliːbreɪ/, "Free Cuba") is a highball made of cola, lime, and white rum. This highball is often referred to as a Rum and Coke in the United States, Canada, the UK and Ireland, where the lime juice is optional.



Accounts of the invention of the Cuba Libre vary. One account claims that the drink (Spanish for Free Cuba) was invented in Havana, Cuba around 1901/1902. Patriots aiding Cuba during the Spanish-American War—and, later, expatriates avoiding Prohibition—regularly mixed rum and cola as a highball and a toast to this West Indies island.[1]

The world's second most popular drink was born in a collision between the United States and Spain. It happened during the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century when Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and Americans in large numbers arrived in Cuba. One afternoon, a group of off-duty soldiers from the U.S. Signal Corps were gathered in a bar in Old Havana. Fausto Rodriguez, a young messenger, later recalled that Captain Russell came in and ordered Bacardi (Gold) rum and Coca-Cola on ice with a wedge of lime. The captain drank the concoction with such pleasure that it sparked the interest of the soldiers around him. They had the bartender prepare a round of the captain's drink for them. The Bacardi rum and Coke was an instant hit. As it does to this day, the drink united the crowd in a spirit of fun and good fellowship. When they ordered another round, one soldier suggested that they toast ¡Por Cuba Libre! in celebration of the newly freed Cuba. The captain raised his glass and sang out the battle cry that had inspired Cuba's victorious soldiers in the War of Independence.[2]

However, there are some problems with Bacardi's account, as the Spanish-American war was fought in 1898, Cuba's liberation was in 1898, and the Rough Riders left Cuba in September 1898,[3] but Coca-Cola was not available in Cuba until 1900.[4] According to a 1965 deposition by Fausto Rodriguez, the Cuba Libre was first mixed at a Cuban bar in August 1900 by a member of the U.S. Signal Corps, referred to as "John Doe".[5]

Along with the Mojito and the Daiquiri, the Cuba Libre shares the mystery of its exact origin. The only certainty is that this cocktail was first sipped in Cuba. The year? 1900. 1900 is generally said to be the year that cola first came to Cuba, introduced to the island by American troops. But “Cuba Libre!” was the battle cry of the Cuba Liberation Army during the war of independence that ended in 1898.[2]


This drink was once viewed as exotic, with its dark syrup, made (at that time) from cola nuts and coca.

Soon enough, as Charles H. Baker, Jr. points out in his Gentlemen's Companion of 1934, the Cuba Libre "caught on everywhere throughout the [American] South ... filtered through the North and West," aided by the ample supply of its ingredients. In The American Language, 1921, H.L. Mencken writes of an early variation of the drink: "The troglodytes of western South Carolina coined 'jump stiddy' for a mixture of Coca-Cola and denatured alcohol (usually drawn from automobile radiators); connoisseurs reputedly preferred the taste of what had been aged in Model-T Fords."[5]

The drink gained further popularity in the United States after the Andrews Sisters recorded a song (in 1945) named after the drink's ingredients, "Rum and Coca-Cola". Cola and rum were both cheap at the time and this also contributed to the widespread popularity of the concoction.[5]

Recipe variations

A Cuba Libre

The Cuba Pintada ("stained Cuba") is one part rum with two parts club soda and just enough cola so that it tints the club soda. The Cuba Campechana ("straightforward Cuba") contains one part rum topped off with equal parts of club soda and cola. They are both popular refreshments, especially among young people.

A recent variation is the Coppertone which uses Malibu Rum (rum with a natural coconut extract) and Cherry Coke for the cola component. The resulting drink smells like suntan lotion and the name is an allusion to that.

Other recent variations are the Cuba Light made with rum and Diet Coke, and the Witch Doctor made with dark rum and Dr. Pepper.

Another variation using Dr. Pepper as the cola component and Jack Daniels in place of white rum is known as the Dr. Jack.

Another variation of the Cuba Libre is the Cuban Missile Crisis. Compared to a normal Cuba Libre, it uses a higher proof rum, such as Bacardi 151 (75.5%).

A variation of the Cuba Libre popular in the West Indies is a “Hot” Cuba Libre which includes a splash of Caribbean hot sauce (for example, Capt'n Sleepy's Quintessential Habanero, or Matouk's).

Some people substitute Cream Soda and spiced rum to create a bright gold drink, often referred to as a Midas.

Another recent variation is the Venezuela Libre, inspired by the increasing cooperation between the governments of Venezuela and Cuba. It has 1.5 US fluid ounces (44 ml) of Venezuelan White Rum, 1.5 US fluid ounces (44 ml) of Venezuelan Gold Rum, 3 US fluid ounces (89 ml) of lemon mix, 1 lemon wedge and a dash of angostura bitters, and diet cola in place of normal cola.

Local variations

The drink's name has evolved somewhat in both Cuba and the United States, where some choose to refer to it as a Mentirita ("a little lie"), in an opinionated reference to Cuban politics.

In Australia, the more popularly known drink is simply Rum and Coke or "Rumbo", which contains no lime, commonly uses a local dark rum and can be purchased in cans as a ready-to-drink. However, the combination of light rum, brown sugar and cola is commonly ordered at cocktail bars as a Cuba Libre.

In Brazil, there is another variation, made with "cachaça" and lemon without peeling.

In Britain, the drink is most commonly served without the lime juice and ordered simply as a Bacardi and Coke[citation needed]. When the lime juice is included and rubbed around the rim of the glass it can be known as a Lou Bega, after the popular singer.[citation needed]

In Argentina, Chile, and Spain, Cuba Libre is also called "Ron-Cola" and "Cubata".

In Dominican Republic, it is the most popular drink to enjoy, poured with a very generous amount of locally produced Dominican Rum (i.e. Brugal, Bermúdez, and so on.) and Coke, topped off with a slice of lime. Domincans often call "cuba libre" "mentirilla" or little lie as a joke, it all started at the end of the cold war.

In Greece Thessaloniki, there is another variant, that consists of "retsina" and cola, named "tumba libre". "Tumba" is the name of a neighborhood in Thessaloniki.

In the Netherlands the drink is commonly called Baco, from the two ingredients of Bacardi rum and cola.

In Nicaragua, when it is mixed using Flor de Caña (the national brand of rum) and cola, it is called a Nica Libre.

In Peru, a variation called Peru Libre is made with pisco rather than rum.

In Poland, when it is mixed using Burn and rum, it is called a Poland Libre. This, because Burn is a popular drink to mix in Poland and the drink turns red (the color of Poland).

In Russia Cuba Libre without the lime juice is called Rock-n-Roll Star, after a popular song that features the recipe. Any distilled spirit could be substituted for a rum in a pinch, but these variations generally do not have any specific names.

In Venezuela the Cuba Libre Preparado ("Prepared Cuba Libre") includes a dash of gin and a dash of Angostura bitters.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cuba Libre — (spanisch für „Freies Kuba“) ist ein alkoholhaltiger Longdrink auf Rum Basis, der 1898 in Havanna (Kuba) erfunden wurde. Eine andere Version dieses Longdrinks ist der so genannte Cubata, der mit braunem anstatt mit weißem Rum gemixt wird.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cuba Libre — Le Cuba libre est un cocktail à base de rhum, de citron vert et de cola appelé aussi rhum Coca. Origine du nom Le nom de ce cocktail date de 1898, année de la perte de Cuba par les Espagnols, et fin de la guerre d indépendance. Selon la légende… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cuba-Libre —   der, / s, Mischgetränk aus einem Colagetränk, etwas (weißem) Rum und Zitronensaft …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Cuba libre — Le Cuba libre est un cocktail à base de rhum, de citron vert et de cola, appelé aussi rhum Coca,[1],[2] ou rum and Coke au Québec …   Wikipédia en Français

  • “Cuba Libre” — by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) (1960)    If the years 1958–62 can be agreed to represent LeRoi Jones/ amiri baraka’s Beat phase, then “Cuba Libre,” which arose out of his 1960 visit to Cuba in the company of such black intellectuals as Harold… …   Encyclopedia of Beat Literature

  • cuba libre — cu·ba li·bre loc.s.m.inv. ES sp. {{wmetafile0}} bevanda a base di coca cola e rum {{line}} {{/line}} DATA: 1949. ETIMO: sp. Cuba libre propr. Cuba libera …   Dizionario italiano

  • cuba-libre — cubalibre o cuba libre (plural cubalibres) sustantivo masculino 1. (no contable) Mezcla de refresco de cola y bebida alcohólica, generalmente ron o ginebra: A mí lo que más me gusta es el cubalibre de ron. 2. Uso/registro: coloquial. Medida de… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Cuba libre — [ˌk(j)u:bə li:breɪ] noun (plural Cuba libres) a long drink containing lime juice and rum. Origin Amer. Sp., free Cuba …   English new terms dictionary

  • cuba libre — ˌkyübəˈlēbrə noun (plural cuba libres) Etymology: American Spanish, literally, free Cuba (originally a drink of water and sugar or honey drunk by insurrectionists during the Cuban War of Independence) : a tall drink made from lime juice, rum, and …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cuba libre — noun Etymology: Spanish, literally, free Cuba Date: 1937 a cocktail made with rum, lime juice, and cola …   New Collegiate Dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.