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Cuba Libre

The Cuba Libre (KOO-buh-LEE-bray) is a cocktail made of

Rub the rim of a highball glass with the lime. Fill with ice. Add rum and fill with Coca-Cola. Drop in the lime squeeze. Jones' Bar Guide omits the gin and bitters, but they are said by some to greatly improve the quality of the drink.

Commonly confused with Rum and Coke.

The Cuba Libre ("Freedom for Cuba") was invented in Havana, Cuba around 1900. Patriots aiding Cuba during the Spanish-American War—and, later, expatriates avoiding Prohibition—regularly mixed rum and Coca-Cola as a cocktail and a toast to this West Indies island.

According to Bacardi:

"The world's 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 a captain came in and ordered Bacardi 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 íPor 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." [1]

According to a 1965 deposition by Fausto Rodriguez, the Cuba Libre was first mixed at a Cuban bar in August of 1900 by a member of the U.S. Signal Corps, referred to as "John Doe."

Soon enough, as Charles H. Baker points out in his Gentlemen's Companion of 1934, the Cuba Libre "caught on everywhere throughout the South...filtered through the North and West," aided by the ample supply of its ingredients. In The American Language, 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 Cuba Libre gained further popularity in the U.S. after the Andrews Sisters recorded a song (in 1945) named after the drink's ingredients, "Rum and Coca-Cola." Coca-Cola and rum were both cheap at the time and this also contributed to the widespread popularity of the concoction.

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

In some Spanish-speaking countries, one popular toast goes (while holding a cuba libre):

Person #1: "Cuba Libre!"
Person #2: "Nunca!"

See also: Wikipedia Cocktail Guide.


Cuba Libre is also the name of a fictional novel by novelist Elmore Leonard which was published in 1998.