Since our Cuba Libré is part of a cocktail flight named after Charles Baker, Jr., we’ll let him tell you about it: “The only trouble with the drink is that it started by accident and without imagination, and has been carried along by the ease of its supply. Under any condition it is too sweet. What’s to do?” Baker’s eventual solution, apparently, was the juice of a small lime, hence the ubiquitous garnish.
The famous and once standard-setting rum company Bacardi was founded by Don Facundo Bacardi Masso in 1862, in Santiago de Cuba. Other native brands, like Matusalem (1872) and Havana Club (1878) disappeared for a few decades after Castro’s revolution while Bacardi moved to Puerto Rico. Per usual, stories surrounding the origin of this “lazy person’s drink” (Jason Wilson) are, by now, apocryphal, blending timelines before, during, and after the Spanish-American War. Nevertheless, whatever this cocktail’s origins, that it was a product of Americans bringing bottled Coca-Cola to the island and used it to mellow the flavors of the Caribbean’s native spirit is clear.
Our Cuba Libré is, of course, made with a house cola, and so is missing its otherwise iconic brown coloring. The flavors alone will convince you that the trade is worthy, especially when ordered as part of the cocktail flight and tasted alongside the Sahara Burning Heart and the East India Cocktail.