How to Make a Classic Cuba Libre Cocktail

Classic Cuba Libre Cocktail

The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
184 Calories
0g Fat
14g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 184
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 5mg 23%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 25mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Cuba libre is a popular mixed drink that you may find very familiar. This simple mixed drink is similar to a rum and Coke, but the addition of fresh lime juice, which lightens up the mix and cuts through the sweetness of the cola, is what distinguishes it from the standard. The lime should be fresh (not from a bottle) to keep the drink authentic. Translated from Spanish, the name means “free Cuba,” a phrase that was popularized around the end of the Spanish-American War and used to celebrate that Cuba was freed from Spanish rule.

"Despite common practice, high-quality white rum really makes a difference here. Flor de Caña 4 year, Plantation 3 Star, El Dorado 3, Banks 5 Island—all are brands that immediately come to mind. All bring unexpected depth to an otherwise simple cocktail. Also, try to get all your ingredients as cold as possible!" —Tom Macy

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1/2 lime

  • 2 ounces light rum

  • 4 ounces cola

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Cuba Libre Cocktail ingredients

    The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

  2. Add the lime juice into a collins or highball glass.

    pour the juice of half a lime into a collins or highball glass

    The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

  3. Fill with ice cubes and pour the rum into the glass.

    add ice cubes and pour the rum into the glass

    The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

  4. Fill with the cola and gently stir.

    Classic Cuba Libre Cocktail

    The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

Tips

  • If you can source Mexican Coca-Cola that is sweetened with cane sugar, it will be more authentic than the American Coca-Cola sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). You can use other brands of cola or artisanal colas as you prefer.
  • Light rum is usually chosen for the Cuba libre, and to be traditional, you should use a Cuban-style rum. However, if you like dark rum, you can give that a try in your cocktail.
  • If you want to make a more complex drink, after squeezing the lime, drop it into the serving glass and muddle it to release the citrus oil from the rind. Remove the fruit before adding the other ingredients.

What's the History of the Cuba Libre?

There are several competing stories as to how this cocktail came to be, but one thing for sure is that it didn't happen until after Coca-Cola arrived in Cuba around 1900. A popular version of the drink's origin is that it was invented at the American Bar in Havana, where a group of American soldiers was celebrating the defeat over the Spanish in the Spanish-American war. A Captain of the U.S. Army ordered Bacardi rum with Coca-Cola and a lime wedge and toasted "Por Cuba libre!", which was a popular wartime rally cry. The phrase instantly became the name for the cocktail.


Coca-Cola soon realized the soda's popularity in Cuba and set up a bottling plant in 1906. When the U.S. placed an embargo on Coca-Cola exports to Cuba in 1960, Cubans began making Cuba libres with TuKola instead.

How Strong Is a Cuba Libre?

The Cuba libre is a rather mild mixed drink. Its actual alcohol content will vary depending on the strength of your rum and the amount of cola you end up pouring. On average, though, it will mix up to just 11 percent ABV (22 proof). That's perfectly normal for highball drinks and about as strong as a glass of wine.