How to Make a Classic Cuba Libre Cocktail

Cuba Libre Cocktail

 The Spruce

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
141 Calories
0g Fat
4g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 141
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 0g
Calcium 11mg 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.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 ounces light rum, preferably Cuban
  • 4 ounces cola (Coca-Cola)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Squeeze the juice of the half a lime into a Collins glass or highball glass.

  3. Add ice cubes and pour the rum into the glass.

  4. Fill with the cola and gently stir.

  5. Serve and enjoy.

Tips

  • A Collins glass is taller and narrower than a highball glass, so it will maintain the carbonation of the cola longer. However, you can make a Cuba libre at home in any tall glass.
  • If you can source some 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.