Rum and coke is often regarded as the lazy man’s cocktail and is one of the most consumed alcoholic drinks in the world. Commonly known as Cuba Libre, this mix of rum, cola and a squeeze of lime has a little story attached to it.
A unique style of Cuba Libre existed before the combination of rum and cola became popular. Instead of sweet refreshing cola a mixture of brown sugar and water was used. With the arrival of the American army during 1898, Cuba also received their first sip of Coca Cola. Soon that became the preferred beverage for native Cubans too.
With its availability in common bars and taverns, it was a preferred mixer for many drinks. While celebrating the victory from the Spanish circa mid 1900s, Officers of the American army ordered a Bacardi rum and a Coke at a bar in Havana. Impressed by this combination and as an ode to their officer, all the other soldiers present in the bar called for the same drink. Happy with this gesture the officer finally proposed a toast by saying ‘Por Cuba Libre’ in celebration of free Cuba.
During 1965, Fausto Rodriguez, an advertising executive for Bacardi filed an affidavit. Claiming that he was present during the time this drink was created. Little Fausto was acting as a messenger for the US troops then, at the young age of fourteen. He was apparently working in the same bar when his employer called for a Bacardi rum and Coke drink.
Later, in 1966 Bacardi published an ad stating this story in the famous Life magazine. However, to date, the accuracy of this story remains unverified. Maybe filing an affidavit 65 years on could just be a marketing gimmick?
Another theory suggests Cuba Libre originated in 1902 at El Floridita restaurant in Havana, Cuba.
Popularity and Variations
Being one of the staples for Cubans, this drink later took over United States. During prohibition in US, Coca Cola was widely used as it helped in disguising the alcohol. Also, cola covered up for the low quality of rums and other spirits available then. The drink further flew onwards to Europe and became the go-to drink for WWII soldiers. During this time, the renowned Andrew Sisters recorded a song called ‘Rum and Coca Cola’ and it became an instant hit.
Bacardi claims this drink to be the world’s second most popular alcoholic drink.
Authentic recipe calls for 2 parts of rum and 4 parts of cola in a highball glass filled with ice and lime wedges. However, there are possible variations one involves changing to a dark rum. Other early recipes included gin and bitters to elevate the overall profile. Cubata is another variation made by replacing rum with aged Anejo Tequila. Another interesting variation to the drink is rum infused with butter popcorn called as Cinema Highball.
Whichever way you enjoy it, remember that complicated isn’t always better; sometimes the simplest of combinations can deliver the most legendary of concoctions.