Cuba Libre Cocktail

This spin on the Cuba Libre is one that can open the minds of your friends who don’t drink cocktails – except for Rum & Coke or Jack & Coke. The original goes back to just after the 1898 Spanish-American War in Cuba. U.S. soldiers stuck around and brought Coca-Cola with them, adding it to the typical rum and lime. Flash forward to the ’90s: Paul Harrington is working the bar at Townhouse up in Emeryville. He gets with two people from Wired magazine to launch a cocktail section on their web site (now long gone) that helps spur the current cocktail renaissance. His tweak to this tired old drink, suggested by a Venezuelan customer: Add a hit of gin and Angostura, cut back on the Coke – suddenly the high-school drink is all growed up.


1 1/2 oz light rum

1/2 oz London Dry gin

3/4 oz lime juice

2 dashes Angostura bitters

3 oz Coca-Cola

Measure accurately with the Double Cocktail Jigger from


Shake first four ingredients with ice.

Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice.

Top with cola.

Stir to blend.

Garnish with a lime wedge and serve with straws.


Enrique 13 Jul 2012
9:09 am

Why is it so important to blend the components of the cocktail with ice in the shaker if you are going to serve it with ice? Would not it be better mixing them before without ice first?
(a question from an old rookie who has always drunk but want to do it right)

Dave Stolte 13 Jul 2012
9:28 am

A quick shake ensures that the ingredients are properly mixed and chill before they hit the ice. This helps keep the ice in the glass from melting too quickly.

Enrique 13 Jul 2012
9:43 am

Thanks a lot.

Enrique 13 Jul 2012
9:45 am

The truth is that it is the first time I hear about gin in Cuba Libre but after trying it I think it was great and gives the drink a touch of seriousness enriching the flavour and softening its sweetnness which makes it less good for me than, for example, Gin Tonic.

Samuel56 18 Jul 2012
6:24 am

Also, as I have learned recently from “various sources” (read: Small Screen/Robert Hess) mixing up with ice adds a bit of water to the drink which is also an essential ingredient to the cocktail, even though it’s not listed as such.  This drink does sound intriguing.  I’m a purist though and we’re gonna have to come up with another name for it!  :D

Dave Stolte 18 Jul 2012
6:45 am

In Venezuela, this is called Cuba Libre Preparado.

GregC 9 Aug 2012
8:14 pm

@ Enrique the shaking adds a decent bit of water to the drink.  If you look at how much cocktail is poured on ice by Dave vs. his friend you can really see that Dave’s seems to be taller.  Now maybe the ice was taking up more room or Dave had large original pours of booze in his mixing glass, but I am guessing it was probably because he gave his cocktail a harder shake and in doing so added more water to the mix.  More water might sound like a bad thing, but personally I have found I really like it.  The little bit of extra water just means more of a drink to enjoy plus when you give them a good shake the drink gets colder.

Dave Stolte 9 Aug 2012
9:16 pm

Thanks Greg. Proper dilution also rounds out the corners of a drink a bit, unifying flavors. Dilution is your friend!

8stringfan 8 Feb 2016
9:26 pm

Those are some poorly designed jiggers.  1.5 oz on one side and 1 oz. on the other is far more useful.  Although kegworks probably doesn’t wont it mentioned, I feel it’s worth noting that Oxo makes the best jiggers I’ve found - they actually have gradations etched inside the jigger for easy and precise measurement.  You can find them for $8-&9 at Target.  Also, hitting high like you did the first time on that Boston shaker is an easy way to crack the glass.  You want it to be lower and right at the seam between the two vessels

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