View Full Version : Rum and Cola

06-19-2010, 17:22
I was reading Ted Haigh's fine cocktails history/manual that came out a few years ago, what a great book, well-written and full of both historical and practical information. (The sub-cultures that exist in the mixology world certainly reveal some fascinating arcana, like the Tiki tradition of drinks on the West Coast). Haigh gives a recipe for a Cuba Libre, whose origins go back to the Spanish-American War, not later political developments including the Communist takeover. He prescribes 2 ounces rum, a half lime squeezed, and a few ounces cola, about three is right. I tried this and it is really good, my rum blends are perfect for it albeit I design them for neat drinking.

Haigh considers cola underutilized in mixology - as opposed to mixed drinks - and I would agree. There is a cola off-shoot called cola tonic which featured in a number of Jazz Age cocktails. It is not made any more in America. Apparently it is somewhat like cola syrup. Ed, if you see any in South Africa maybe you can bring one to the next Gazebo - it's still going strong there per Mr. Haigh.


06-20-2010, 06:42
Is cola tonic the same as Coca-Cola syrup which is or was used in soda fountains to make Coca-Cola soda (soft drink or pop) by adding carbonated water. At one time you could buy it in pharmacies. It was used to treat nausea and upset stomach. It may still be available in pharmacies.

Dramiel McHinson
06-20-2010, 07:19
I've always enjoyed dark dry rums with cola. I haven't tried the lime with it yet but that might happen soon. Thanks for the enlightenment!

06-20-2010, 10:08
Yes, Doug, that is how Ted Haigh explains it. He states Rose's (of the noted Lime Juice) makes a surviving example, and it is sold widely in South Africa, apparently the only place left in the world where there is any significant market for it. He also states that in the 1930's an alcoholic version was available, called Tonicola. He gives a number of links to order it in the Resource Guide appended to the book, here is one: www.outofafricatrading.com. I checked the link and theirs is called Dream Kola Tonic.

I agree with Haigh that the juice in the Cuba Libre really does makes all the difference to the drink, that and the fact that only a few ounces of Coke are used. (In this regard the approach is similar to the recent discussion on this board of how much cola should go into a Bourbon and Coke).

Haigh's book is called Vintage Spirits And Forgotten Cocktails (2nd edition, 2009). A must read.


06-20-2010, 22:00
I'm going to try this! I've got lime, coke, and some decent rum that needs to be drank. :cool:

06-21-2010, 01:26
I wonder if Haigh was aware that cola was not available in Cuba until 1900, which means that the Cuba Libre would have been invented after the Spanish American War? At least, this is so according to wikipedia (which, though not what I consider an authoritative source, does offer some interesting information challenging the Haigh perspective):

Accounts of the invention of the Cuba Libre vary. One account claims that the drink (Spanish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_language) for Free Cuba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba)) was invented in Havana (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havana), Cuba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba) around 1901/1902. Patriots aiding Cuba during the Spanish-American War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish-American_War)[citation needed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citation_needed)] — and, later, expatriates avoiding Prohibition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition) regularly mixed rum and Cola as a highball and a toast to this West Indies island.

According to Bacardi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacardi):
The world's second most popular drink was born in a collision between the United States and Spain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain). It happened during the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century when Teddy Roosevelt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt), the Rough Riders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rough_Riders), and Americans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States) in large numbers arrived in Cuba. One afternoon, a group of off-duty soldiers from the U.S. Signal Corps were gathered in a bar in Old Havana. Fausto Rodriguez, a young messenger, later recalled that a captain came in and ordered Bacardi (Gold) rum and Coca-Cola on ice with a wedge of lime. The captain drank the concoction with such pleasure that it sparked the interest of the soldiers around him. They had the bartender prepare a round of the captain's drink for them. The Bacardi rum and Coke was an instant hit. As it does to this day, the drink united the crowd in a spirit of fun and good fellowship. When they ordered another round, one soldier suggested that they toast ˇPor Cuba Libre! in celebration of the newly freed Cuba. The captain raised his glass and sang out the battle cry that had inspired Cuba's victorious soldiers in the War of Independence.[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba_Libre#cite_note-cuba-libre-0)
However, there are some problems with Bacardi's account, as the Spanish-American war was fought in 1898, Cuba's liberation was in 1898, and the Rough Riders left Cuba in September 1898,[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba_Libre#cite_note-1) but Coca-Cola was not available in Cuba until 1900.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba_Libre#cite_note-2) According to a 1965 deposition by Fausto Rodriguez (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fausto_Rodriguez&action=edit&redlink=1), the Cuba Libre was first mixed at a Cuban bar in August 1900 by a member of the U.S. Signal Corps, referred to as "John Doe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Doe)".[4] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba_Libre#cite_note-3)

According to Havana Club (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havana_Club):
Along with the Mojito (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mojito) and the Daiquiri (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daiquiri), the Cuba Libre shares the mystery of its exact origin. The only certainty is that this cocktail was first sipped in Cuba. The year? 1900. 1900 is generally said to be the year that cola first came to Cuba, introduced to the island by American troops. But “Cuba Libre!” was the battle cry of the Cuba Liberation Army during the war of independence that ended in 1878.

In addition, wikipedia notes that the International Bartenders Association states that the official recipe is

100ml of Cola
50ml of White rum
lime wedgeserved on the rocks in a highball glass. Hence, there should be twice as much cola as rum.

Erik, the Cuba Libre was your grandfather's favorite drink. :drink:

06-21-2010, 04:31
Thanks for that, very helpful. Haigh didn't state that about the Spanish American war, that was from me recollecting some of the history. I thought I heard that American engineers came up with the idea around that time, sometimes it is impossible to know in the mists of time exactly when it started. I'll try the official recipe soon, it sounds good too. Everyone puts their spin on it, the idea of infusing the juice of a half lime is good too, it gives a great taste.


06-21-2010, 18:54
Well.......... I think I knew that about Shorty, mom. but what I will say is that using 1:1 on coke and lime, 1 or 2oz each, and then a whole half lime, doesn't work so well. my half lime ended up producing about 2oz of lime juice, so the whole mess was 1:1:1 and it was intense. I love lime, but that was just TOO much!

06-21-2010, 19:03
Ahhh, Cuba Libres. My parents used to drink those. I don't think they were that precise in their measurements, but they insisted on Coca Cola only.

Lost Pollito
06-21-2010, 19:13
This reminds me of when I was lil, and thought my Uncles were drinking Roman Coke. :lol: Kinda like Ease-dropping.

06-21-2010, 22:30
A little of track but my step-son used to say why does Dave listen to Crunchy Music (Country Music).

I have always been a rum and Pepsi or when younger JD and Pepsi.

06-21-2010, 23:46
This reminds me of when I was lil, and thought my Uncles were drinking Roman Coke. :lol: Kinda like Ease-dropping.LOL!

As for Pepsi, it's just a little too sweet for me, but probably that's because I was raised on Coca Cola.

Edit--yes, Erik, a 1:1:1 mixture would be a bit much! But a little lime in a rum & coke mix is really nice!