A Cuba Libre has long been my easier go to cocktail when ordering a dirty dry vodka martini seemed a bit much or was not available.
Over the years, I’ve jumped from a regular coke and rum to a coke with spiced rum. I can thank my husband for introducing me to that little switch and I love it.
In all the years that I’ve been drinking this cocktail either at bars/restaurants or making it at home, I’ve always had it with dark rum.
While in Cuba this past October, you can imagine we ate out a lot, particularly the first week when we were at a resort. For 6 days we ate at one of the restaurants they had on site, but most of the time was spent floating in a pool, reading books, and floating over to the swim up bar for snacks and a cocktail.
The first time I asked for a Cuba Libre, it tasted vastly different than I was use to. Sharper, harder… stripped of something I had come to love. It wasn’t bad, but the caramel backdrop of the rum was gone. I asked about the rum, and the bartender smiled. I suspect he’s had this interaction before.
According to Alberto, our bartender, and others we encountered after that, a Cuba Libre are made up of white rum and coke, and a Cubata is made up of aged/dark rum and coke. Who knew? How had I missed this? I had never heard of a Cubata in my life up until that point.
It’s important to note that every bar and bartender we encountered had this distinction on the menu. It might be that depending on region, customs and time, what ingredients actually go into a Cuba Libre will vary, but this was my educational experience in Cuba.
All that said, I’m a fan of the Cubata over the Cuba Libre, hands down. Further, because there just aren’t enough cocktail recipes on this website, I give you the recipe for both!
Before You Mix
Before you venture to make these two cocktails I recommend the following:
1. Try to find some Mexican Coca Cola. This might be easier to find in metropolitan areas across the United States, near impossible in others. The reason for this is that Coca Cola in the United States is infinitely inferior in flavor to the versions made in countries where they actually use real sugar.
Coca Cola ruined itself when it took to using Corn Syrup instead of sugar in the US due to government subsidies. This for me is an example of how cheaper is not necessarily better and for me quality is better than cost. Yes, yes… I’m talking about soda which is on the whole terrible for your health.
However, if you’re going to enjoy a pleasant indulgence on occasion, best to make it amazing than just acceptable. Also, it should go without saying, but do not at all, ever, ever use diet Coke or anything Pepsi for this cocktail. Thank you.
2. I’m also going to recommend that you take a weekend to do a fun tasting between both types of cocktails. This gives you a chance to see the difference and see for yourself which one suits your taste buds best. To this end, invest in small bottles of each rum and for this I would definitely advise saving money by getting affordable but still good quality rum rather than the very high end variety.
Later, when you know which one you prefer you can opt of higher end rum and taste the further difference there.
Bacardi, originally made in Cuba is now made in Puerto Rico and Mexico. It also makes rum under the label Havana Club, which is different than the Havana Club currently being used in Cuba, but their origins are linked. I’d start here because in spirit it still whispers back to it’s origins. Bacardi can be found in quite a lot of countries.
There is also Don Q made in Puerto Rico and accessible in most parts of the Unites States and quite similar to the Cuban style of making rum.
Captain Morgan is also a mid range rum, close to the other two in range, and when I ask for a spiced rum and coke, it’s always Captain Morgan’s spiced rum.
In terms of cost these are all about a mid range price point, that should be affordable in a small bottle.
- 1 part white rum (try a Don Q Cristal Rum or a Bacardi Gold, which according to their site, is the original rum used in this cocktail. I’d do the white rum to give you an experience like the one I had in Cuba)
- 1/2 lime
- 2 parts Coca Cola
1. Throw 2-3 cubes of ice in a glass.
2. Squeeze the juice of the lime into the glass then toss the shell in.
3. Add the rum and the coke.
4. Stir lightly with a stirrer. Enjoy!
- 1 part Dark rum (try
- 1/2 lime
- 2 parts Coca Cola
Same instructions as above.
If you want to try the spiced rum, just substitute the rum type in the recipe above.
Let me know which you like most!