The history of Cuba Libre
Cuba Libre the highball made of cola, lime and white rum. This highball is often referred to as a Rum and Coke in the USA, Canada the UK. and New Zeland, 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 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.
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 Rosevelt the Rough, 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.
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. But Coca-Cola was not available in Cuba until 1900. According to a 1965 deposition by Fausto Rodrigez, the “Free Cuba” (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.
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. 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.
This drink was once viewed as exotic, with its dark syrup, made (at that time) from coca nut 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.”
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
Cubata: A Cuba Libre made from Havana Club Especial instead of Havana Club Blanco, giving it a deeper, more complex flavour.
Cuba Pintada: (“stained Cuba”) is one part rum with two parts soda and just enough cola so that it tints the club soda.
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.
Cuba Light : made with rum and Diet Coke.
Witch Doctor: made with dark rum and Dr. Pepper.
Cuban Missile Crisis:. Compared to a normal Cuba Libre, it uses a higher proof rum, such as Bacardi 151 (75.5%).
“Hot” Cuba Libre which includes a splash of Caribbean hot sauce.
In Chile and Spain, Cuba Libre is called “Ron-Cola” and “Cubata”.
Tico Libre: is made with gold or dark rum, diet cola and garnished with lemon for a refreshing finish.
Tumba Libre: consists of “retsina” and cola, named cuz “Tumba” is the name of a neighborhood in Thessaloniki.
Spicy cherry libre or “Spicy vanilla” libre: is made of spiced rum, cherry coke or vanilla coke, and garnished with a lime.