How to mix a Cuban cocktail


Travelling is thirsty work and there's no place better than Cuba to quench it. Cuba’s acres of sugarcane fields make the island one of the biggest producers of rum in the Caribbean. Although most Cubans drink their rum straight up, some go a step further. Join Lonely Planet Magazine at the bar with these three classic recipes from a bartending superpower.

Cuba Libre

Meaning ‘free Cuba’ in Spanish, this drink was first mixed around 1900 when Cubans had just fought to free themselves from Spanish rule and Americans brought cola to the island. In English it’s often simply called a rum and Coke.

To mix, take 50ml of white rum and 100ml of cola. Pour these into a highball glass filled with ice and garnish with a wedge of lime.


Today available in dozens of varieties - from frozen to banana - the original was probably named after a beach of the same name near Santiago de Cuba. It was popularised by Havana’s El Floridita bar in the 1920s, where bartenders added maraschino liqueur.

To mix, take 45ml of white rum, 20ml of fresh lemon or lime juice, and 5ml of gomme syrup (a sugar and water mixture with added gum arabic). Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice cubes and shake well. Then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


The spiritual home of this cocktail is La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana. Like El Floridita, the bar was a famous haunt of Ernest Hemingway.

To mix, take 40ml of white rum, 30ml of fresh lime juice, three sprigs of mint, two teaspoons of sugar and some soda water. Muddle the mint with the sugar and lime juice in a highball glass. Add the rum and top with soda water. Garnish with an extra sprig of mint and serve with a straw.

Source for recipes: International Bartenders Association (

This article was updated in March 2012.