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The Cuba Libre a Rum Cocktail

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Cuban cocktail known as the Cuba Libre is simply a Rum & Coke. Though the ingredients of this cocktail are cola, rum and a lime garnish it’s a story about the significance of the rum in celebrating freedom.

Rum was the drink of choice in Cuba that celebrated the end of war and oppression of the Spanish-American War of independence of 1895 - 1898. This was a brutal conflict that originated in Cuba as a struggle for independence from Spain.


The Cuba Libre Cocktail Recipe

  • ½ lime

  • 50ml / 1¾ Fl oz of rum

  • 100ml / 3.5 Fl oz of cola

  • Ice

Squeeze the juice from two of the wedges into a tall glass. Drop the remaining wedges into the glass and fill with ice. Pour in the rum then fill up with cola and stir gently.


The intervention by the United States was sanctioned by 25th U.S President William McKinley following the sinking in Havana harbour of the American battleship USS Maine which had initially arrived on a humanitarian mission to protect U.S. citizens and investments on the island. After three years of conflict the Treaty of Paris was signed in December 1898 where Spain renounced all claim to Cuba.

Shortly after the war it is believed that a captain stationed in Havana called Captain Russell was inspired by the chants of Cuba Libre’ or ‘Free Cuba’ poured Cola and a squeeze of lime into his rum and toasted his Cuban comrades by calling out in the bar, “Por Cuba Libre!” (“To a free Cuba!”).

Variations of the Cuba Libre include the Cuba Pintada, which uses rum and club soda, with a tiny splash of cola to give the drink that deeper brown colour. The Cuba Campechana, uses both mixers in equal quantities.

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