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The Improved Cuba Libre

  • Illustration by Dave Stolte from the book Home Bar Basics and Not-So-Basics

By Camper English, contributor

May 25th, 2012

The recipes we love often travel long distances in space and time to reach us. Today's example of that is an improved version of Rum and Coke I recently discovered.

The Cuba Libre- a Rum and Coke with a splash of lime juice- was created around 1900 during the Spanish-American War in Cuba. The Cuba Libre (Preparado) came to me only recently though. I found it in a cute little book by Dave Stolte called Home Bar Basics and Not-So-Basics. The book lists 12 'basic' drinks and 13 'not-so-basic' drinks, most of them classics. They each come with illustrations, as Stolte does that sort of thing for a living.

Anyway, Stolte's book has a recipe for the Cuba Libre (Preparado), but it turns out he learned of the recipe from Paul Harrington, a bartender who wrote about cocktails for Wired Magazine's website in the 1990s. 

As it turns out, Harrington had learned of this recipe from a Venezuelan customer at this bar, who said that's how they made them in his or her home country.

So from Cuba to Venezuela to California, from 1900 to the 1990s to 2012, the recipe has traveled quite a distance to get here. I don't know if it's exhausted from the travel, but I sure am. Time for a refreshing drink.

The Cuba Libre (Preparado) adds some bitters that give depth to the drink (especially necessary when using modern Coke), a big dose of lime juice, and a little gin for some subtle background notes of juniper.

Cuba Libre (Preparado)
From the book Home Bar Basics and Not-So-Basics by Dave Stolte

1.5 fl. oz. Light Rum
.5 fl. oz. London Dry Gin
.75 fl. oz. Lime Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
3 fl. oz. Coca-Cola

Shake first four ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Add Coke, stir lightly, and garnish with a lime wedge.


posted in: Blogs, drinks, cocktails, camper english, rum
Comments (1)

user-370835 writes: As a native of Maracaibo I can't wait to try this Venezuelan version of a Cuba Libre. The Angostura Bitters seals the deal as a genuine Venezuelan cocktail. Salud! Posted: 9:48 pm on May 28th

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