The Cuba Libre Cocktail is so much more than just rum and Coke. The combination of fresh lime juice, the sweetness of Coca-Cola, and the warmth of Cuban rum creates a unique and delicious flavor, making it one of the best cocktail recipes ever.
One of my favorite places to travel is Cuba. And the first thing I order in the bar when I get there is my favorite drink - the Cuba Libre.
If you love this recipe, you will love this Bacardi Pina Colada Cocktail too!
What is the Cuba Libre?
The Cuba Libre is among the most popular Cuban cocktails, taking third place behind the Classic Daiquiri and the national drink of Cuba - the Mojito.
The origin of the Cuba Libre can be linked to Havana in the early 1900s, following the end of the Spanish-American War. There are various accounts of how this drink came to be, but the most widely accepted story involves a U.S. Army captain stationed in Havana. Celebrating Cuba's newfound independence at a local bar, he mixed rum with Coca-Cola and a splash of lime juice. Raising his glass, he toasted with the words "Por Cuba Libre!" - "For a free Cuba!" - the battle cry of the Cuban Liberation Army. This toast not only marked the birth of the drink but also gave it its iconic name.
I am not sure if the story is factual, but it is a romantic one. The classic cocktail represents the Cuban people's spirit and their fight for independence, as well as signifies freedom and the end of Spanish rule. It is a popular drink in the United States and worldwide, commonly found in every local bar from New York City to Puerto Rico.
Ingredients you'll need
Rum. A Cuban rum like Havana Club Anejo Reserva is a smooth and velvety rum that will give you an authentic taste. It combines light white and aged rum blended together in Puerto Rico under the Caribean sun for 1-3 years in oak barrels. You could also use Bacardi Aged Golden Cuban Rum, which I used. Feel free to experiment with different types of rum.
Coca Cola. Use original Coca-Cola, or Mexican Coke if you have access to it, which is made with cane sugar. You could also use Diet Coke for a lighter version.
Lime juice. Freshly squeezed lime juice takes this drink to the next level. Use some for garnish as well.
How to make a Cuba libre cocktail
Step 1: Fill a glass ¾ full or fuller with ice cubes.
Step 2: Add juice from half a lime into a highball or Tom Collins glass.
Step 3: Pour two ounces of your chosen rum into a highball glass.
Step 4: Top up the glass with 4 ounces of Coca-Cola.
Step 5: Use a long-handled spoon to gently stir the ingredients.
Step 6: Garnish with a wedge of lime on the rim of your glass for that classic Cuba Libre look.
Note: Add an extra squeeze of lime juice on top for even more flavor!
- Choose a high-quality Cuban or Caribbean rum. I find that an aged rum or gold rum has a better flavor than white rum or light rum.
- The ratio of rum to cola is 1:2 for an authentic Cuba Libre.
- Use fresh lime juice for the best flavor. Drop the spent lime shell in the glass for extra flavor and garnish with a lime wedge.
- For a non-alcoholic version, skip the rum and add a bit more lime juice.
What is the difference between a rum and coke and a Cuba Libre?
While a rum and coke is made with any basic rum and cola, the Cuba Libre has a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice. This adds a light citrus flavor that balances the sweetness of the cola. I was surprised at how delicious the addition of lime was.
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Best Cuba Libre Cocktail Recipe
- 1-1½ cups ice cubes
- ½ ounce fresh lime juice (1 tablespoon)
- 2 ounces Cuban rum
- 4 ounces Coca-Cola
- garnish with lime peel, lime wedge, or lime wheel (optional)
- Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.1-1½ cups ice cubes
- Squeeze half a lime (about ½ ounce) into the glass and add the rum. Top up the glass with Coca-Cola.½ ounce fresh lime juice, 2 ounces Cuban rum, 4 ounces Coca-Cola
- Gently stir the mixture to combine the ingredients.
- Garnish with a lime wedge and serve.garnish with lime peel, lime wedge, or lime wheel