Cuba Libre

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Cuba Libre
IBA Official Cocktail
A Cuba Libre
Type Cocktail
Primary alcohol by volume
Served On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish

lime wedge

Standard drinkware Collins glass
IBA specified ingredients*
Preparation Build all ingredients in a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with lime wedge.
* Cuba Libre recipe at International Bartenders Association

The Cuba Libre (/ˈkjuːbə ˈlbr/; Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkuβa ˈliβɾe], "Free Cuba") is a caffeinated alcoholic cocktail made of cola, lime, and dark or light rum. This cocktail is often referred to as a Rum and Coke in the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland, India, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand where the lime juice may or may not be included.


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 Caribbean island.[1][not in citation given]

According to Bacardi:

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]

The Rough Riders left Cuba in September 1898 and included no Signal Corps soldiers, so it is clear that the story reflects an incident during the American military occupation of Cuba, and not during the war itself, which ended in 1898.[3] 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]

According to Havana Club:

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 kola nuts and coca.

Soon, 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[edit]

Two Cuba Libres

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 ("half-and-half Cuba") contains one part rum topped off with equal parts of club soda and cola. They are both popular refreshments, especially among young people.

Other recent variations are the Cuba Light made with rum and Diet Coke, and the Captain Pepper made with Captain Morgan and Dr. Pepper.

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 common variation is the use of "golden" or "dark" rum as opposed to white rum. This variation is the most commonly used in Venezuela.

Local variations[edit]

Pre-mixed Bundaberg Rum & Cola, 2006
  • In Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, a drink created by American contractors with BAE Systems, who were prohibited from drinking alcohol by General Order 1 while in the country, the "Kabul Libre" is straight Coca-Cola with a squeeze of citrus.
  • 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, it is known popularly as Samba-em-Berlim (Samba-in-Berlin).
  • Often the drink is called Cuban for the original mix and White Cuban when coke is replaced with Sprite or 7up.
  • In Chile and Spain, Cuba Libre is also called "Ron-Cola" and "Cubata". In Spain it is commonly used dark rum, not light.
  • In Costa Rica, it is normally known as "Ron-Coca", although a low calorie variation called Tico Libre is made with gold or dark rum, diet cola and garnished with lemon for a refreshing finish.
  • In the Cayman Islands, the beverage is generally consumed with a dark rum, rather that the traditional white rum.
  • In Czech Republic and Slovakia, Kofola, a popular local soft drink, is frequently used instead of coke. Also, the rum is often substituted by Tuzemak.
  • In the Dominican Republic it is a popular drink poured with a generous amount of locally produced Dominican Rum (i.e. Brugal, Bermúdez, etc.) and cola, topped off with a slice of lime. Dominicans also have a variant called the Santo Libre in which the cola is substituted with Sprite.
  • In Finland the drink is most commonly referred to as a Rommikola ("Rum with cola"); and in Iceland romm í kóla (or í kók that reads as: in "coke") means the same. It contains light or dark rum depending on the preference of the consumer and a dash of lemon or lime juice. Rommikola is usually garnished with a slice from the fruit from which the juice is extracted. In some restaurants and bars the name Cuba Libre is used to emphasize that the rum used is of Cuban origin.
  • In Germany, like in many other European countries, the most common variation of the drink is Rum and Coke, called Rum-Cola or Cola-Rum in German. Sometimes, dark or spiced rum is used instead of light rum. In eastern Germany, the variation with dark rum is sometimes considered to be connected to Ostalgie, since a popular bottled ready-to-drink product with dark rum and with the very generic brand name "Cola Rum" existed in East Germany from the early 1970s until German Reunification. Other common names are Bacardi-Cola and Havana-Cola, named after the known rum brands.
  • In Greece Thessaloniki, there is another variant, that consists of "retsina" and cola, named "toumba libre". "Toumba" is the name of a neighborhood in Thessaloniki.
  • In India, the more popularly known drink is simply Rum and Coke, which contains no lime (but lemon juice is used by some), commonly uses a local rum (such as Old Monk). Mixing cola with hard alcoholic beverages like Whisky, instead of rum is quite popular in India. Some people in India even use other soft-drinks instead of Coke to change the flavor.[6]
  • In Kensington, Philadelphia, Rum is mixed with Passion Fruit La Croix Sparkling Water to make a "Kenzo Libre".
  • In Mexico, it is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks and it is usually referred to simply as a "Cuba".
  • In the Netherlands the drink is usually served without lime and commonly referred to as Baco, from the two ingredients of Bacardi rum and cola (even though many bars don't serve Bacardi, the term baco is widely used.)
  • In Newfoundland, there has been a long history of trading dried salted codfish to the West Indies, usually for rum, molasses and spices. Newfoundland Screech, a rum which is actually made in Jamaica, is popularly mixed with coke – without lime. One variation to this drink is called the Tom Morry – which involves equal parts dark rum, water and coke.
  • In Nicaragua, when it is mixed using Flor de Caña (the national brand of rum) and cola, it is called a Nica Libre.
  • In Puerto Rico, a variation called "Spicy cherry" or "Spicy vanilla" is made of spiced rum, cherry coke or vanilla coke, and garnished with a lime.
  • In Peru, a variation called Peru Libre is made with pisco rather than rum.[7]
  • 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 white and red (the colors 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.



  1. ^ "The Original BACARDI Cuba Libre Celebrates 110th Anniversary". Business Wire. 3 August 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Cuba Libre History". Havana Club. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Rough Riders and Colonel Roosevelt". Theodore Roosevelt Association. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Chronicle Of Coca-Cola". The Coca-Cola Company. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Charles A. Coulombe (2005) [2004]. "'Rum and Coca-Cola': A Symbol of Exotic Sophistication". Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered the World. New York, NY: Citadel Press. p. 249. ISBN 978-0-8065-2583-9. 
  6. ^ "Cuba Libre (Rum and Coke) Recipe". MrLiquor. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  7. ^ "Peru Libre Cocktail Recipe". Retrieved 19 July 2012. 

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Cuba libre at Wikimedia Commons