Drink in History & Recipe: Cuba Libre

Known in the United States as the classic Rum and Coke, the Cuba Libre is among the most popular of drinks.

It can be found anywhere, from inside the plastic cups of college students to the local bar to high-end fancy resorts. It’s refreshing, it’s delicious, and it’s simple to make.

According to Bacardi Brand Master, David Cid, the Cuba Libre’s simple recipe is what makes it one of the most served cocktails in the world. The history mixed into this beloved cocktail also gives it character. “Created in Cuba following the Spanish-American War, it embodies a spirit of camaraderie and freedom,” Cid said.

Though it’s loved worldwide by people of all ages, the story behind this famous cocktail’s origin tends to get a little murky. Most accounts, including Cid’s, of the creation of the Cuba Libre, agree that it dates back to Havana around 1900, after the Spanish-American War, which began and ended in 1898 and led to Cuban independence. The name of the drink, Cuba Libre, means “Free Cuba,” which was the battle cry of the Cuban Liberation Army.

But, another well-known story recalls that during the Spanish-American War, a group of off-duty U.S. soldiers went out for some drinks in a bar in Old Havana. Supposedly, a captain ordered rum and cola on ice with lime and enjoyed it so much that he got the other soldiers to order around and they toasted, “Por Cuba Libre!” to celebrate the freedom of Cuba.

To break it down, the origin of the Cuba Libre is a bit of a mystery because the Spanish-American War ended in 1898, and it’s believed that Coca-Cola wasn’t available in Cuba until 1900. No question about it, this drink was first sipped in Cuba, but exactly when that was is best debated over a round of Cuba Libres.

Since its discovery, many ways to mix this favored cocktail have been experimented with. Some use white rum, others go darker.  Some recipes call for Coca-Cola while others go for RC Cola or natural colas. No matter your choice of rum or cola, the brilliant and simple combination known as the Cuba Libre is so well-liked that it’s said to be one of the most popular drinks in the world. “It’s a true crowd favorite, even more than a century later,” said Cid.

Now that’s something to toast to.

Bacardi Cuba Libre

Bacardi Cuba Libre

Bacardi Cuba Libre


  • 1 part Bacardi Gold Rum
  • 3 parts Cola

Preparation: Pour ingredients over ice in a tall glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

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