Though the exact details about the origins of Cuba Lire have not been traced it is clear that this cocktail was introduced in early 1900s and the invention of this drink took place in Havana. Cuba Lire became a popular drink following the commencement of export of Coca Cola from the US to Cuba. The drink which was called “Cuba Libre” prior to that was simply a solution of brown sugar in water. In the US as well as Canada this cocktail drink is known as “Rum & Coke”. In fact the meaning of “Cuba Libre” is Free Cuba and in their independence movement the Cubans used Cuba Libre as their slogan. The introduction of this drink was closely associated with the presence of heavy US troops in Cuba in the aftermath of the Spanish American War in the year 1898. It is believed that the drink Cubs Libre was invented during the horrible days of the Spanish – American War. The people right from Havana up to Helsinki enjoyed the Cuba Libre sip. The Cubans fought for their independence from Spain for 10 years – from 1868 – 1878. The most common drink that the Cuban soldiers sipped during this 10 year-war was dubbed Cuban Libre so as to make it synonymous to their “Free Cuba” movement. That drink consisted of molasses, honey, water and a spirit such as rum.
Coca Cola – Cuba Libre blend
Following the Spanish – American War as well as capitulation of Spain, not only the American troops but also a lot of American businesses made Cuba their preferred destination. Coca-Cola was one among those businesses and in the year 1902 they started exporting the Cola syrup to Cuba. Subsequently the American drinkers in Cuba identified Cuba Libre as an ideal drink to make Coca Cola doctored with a dose of spirit. Basil Woon brought to light the fact that Cuba Libre was available at the American Club in Havana. Irrespective of the different names given for this drink such as “Rum & Coke” “Carioca Cooler”, the mixture of Cuban Rum, lime and cola still dominates among the highballs. Recently, the Cubans replaced the American cola in Cuba Libre with the Cuban-made tuKola. Juan Bergaz Pessino, the Bacardi archivist says that the cocktail drink Cuba Libre was first ordered by Captain Russell from the US while celebrating their victory in the war at The American Bar in Havana. Cuba Libre successfully maintained its position as one of the most popular cocktail drinks the world over. During World War II, Cuba Libre was very popular. For one of their hit songs in the year 1945, the Andrew Sisters gave the title as “Cuba Libre”.
Cuba Libre is in line with Mojito and Daiquiri as the most popular cocktails of Cuba. Interestingly, Cuba Libre was offered along with other cocktails in the 22nd Pan-American Bartenders Championship which was held in Havana recently. In the preparation of the cocktail for this event, many bartenders participated along with the President of IBA, Pepe Dioni – born in Spain. For preparing the cocktail they used 144 bottles of Havana Club rum.