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The Cuba Libre, meaning “Free Cuba”, is an iconic Cuban cocktail that has become a symbol of liberation and camaraderie, encapsulating the spirit of a nation that fought fiercely for its independence.
The story of the Cuba Libre is shrouded in mystery, a testament to the fluidity of history and the blending of cultures. While its birthplace is undisputedly Cuba, the exact moment and mind behind its creation remain elusive. Many narratives weave through the annals of time, but one dominant tale stands out, tracing the cocktail’s roots to a U.S. Army captain stationed in Havana during the early 1900s.
Legend has it that this captain, a temporary resident of the vibrant Cuban capital, sought to commemorate the nation’s hard-fought victory. Celebrating at a local bar, he decided to infuse a touch of Americana into his Bacardi rum, which was his favorite Cuban liquor of choice. With a splash of Coca-Cola and a hint of lime juice, he raised his glass high, uttering the now-immortal words, “Por Cuba Libre” — a toast to a free Cuba. The phrase was more than a mere exclamation; it was the rallying cry of the Cuban independence movement, a sentiment etched into the hearts of those who longed for autonomy.
The Cuba Libre quickly gained popularity around 1900. This surge in fame coincided with the arrival of bottled Coca-Cola in Cuba, a product imported from the United States at that time. The sweet effervescence of the cola mingled seamlessly with the robust notes of Bacardí rum.
What makes the Cuba Libre particularly fascinating is its embodiment of historical resonance within a humble cocktail glass. The layers of meaning within the drink extend beyond the mere fusion of ingredients. Each sip tells a story of two nations entwined by political struggles, united through a shared passion for freedom and, unexpectedly, a refreshing beverage.
60 ml white rum
15 ml fresh lime juice
100-120 ml cola, to top
Garnish: lime wheel
Fill a highball glass with ice, and add the white rum and fresh lime juice.
Top up with cola and stir gently.
Garnish with a lime wheel.