Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Rum Cocktails

Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre cocktail in a Collins glass filled with ice and garnished with several lime wheels. / Tim Nusog

The Cuba Libre, meaning “Free Cuba,” is one of the most popular Cuban cocktails in existence, along with the classic Daiquiri and the Mojito. While the combination of rum, Coke and lime may seem simple, within those three ingredients lies a synergy that has pleased palates for over a century. 

The Cuba Libre’s creation can be traced to early 1900s Havana, shortly after the Spanish-American War. While there are variations on the Cuba Libre’s origin story, the dominant narrative attributes the drink to a U.S. Army captain living in Havana after being stationed there for the war. One day, while celebrating Cuba’s victory at a local bar, the captain added Coca-Cola and a little lime juice to his Bacardí rum and toasted his Cuban comrades by exclaiming, “Por Cuba Libre!” (“To a free Cuba!”), which was the slogan of the Cuban independence movement. The drink—and the name—stuck.

The Bacardi Company has long claimed its rum’s inclusion in this story Cuba Libre. Though it's hard to know the actual rum first used in this classic combination, Bacardí was a popular choice during Cuban independence to quench thirsts and celebrate the island nation’s freedom from Spanish rule. Naturally, The Bacardi company has embraced the Cuba Libre, cozying up to its creation and happily integrating the story of the drink into the company’s history.


  • 2 ounces rum

  • 1 lime wedge

  • Coca-Cola, to top

  • Garnish: lime wheel


  1. Fill a highball glass with ice and add the rum.

  2. Squeeze in the juice from 1/4 of a lime and drop in the spent peel.

  3. Top with the Coca-Cola, then give a brief and gentle stir.

  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Is the Cuba Libre the Same as a Rum and Coke?

While a Rum and Coke and a Cuba Libre are very similar, the squeeze of fresh lime juice added directly to the drink is what sets the Cuba Libre apart. The lime juice cuts the soda's sweetness and adds a zingy jolt of citrus that complements both the tropical, grassy notes of the rum and the effervescent, spicy flavor of the cola. 

What's the Best Type of Rum For a Cuba Libre?

The Cuba Libre doesn't call for a specific type of rum. However, a light, Spanish-style rum like Bacardí is the common choice for a Cuba Libre and will approximate the typical version served in most bars. Feel free to experiment with different types of rum—from light, grassy and funky to rich and full-bodied—to find your favorite style.