October 17, 2016 will go down in rum-lover history. On this day, President Obama removed restrictions on the amount of Cuban rum that can be brought into the United States from abroad. Cuban rum is finally free.
“Already we’re seeing what the United States and Cuba can accomplish when we put aside the past and work to build a brighter future,” White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice said about the policy shift, according to USA Today. “You can now celebrate with Cuban rum and Cuban cigars.”
Yes. We. Can.
The celebratory drink of choice, clearly, is the Cuba Libré. It’s the lazy man’s cocktail, delicious, and is just as at home in a clear plastic cup as it is in a Tom Collins glass. The drink can even trace its history back to some of the first relations between the United States and Cuba — you know, before things got a little tense. Well, it allegedly has that history. It’s hard to confirm who the first person to put Coke, rum and lime together was.
The original Cuba Libré dates back to the Spanish-American War, as the story goes. Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Riders and other American soldiers were helping Cuba fight for independence from Spain and brought over bottles of Coca- Cola with their capitalism.
According to Bacardi, the original Cuba Libré was made for United States Army Signal Corps Captain Russell in 1900, two years after the war. Cuba Libré, which translates to “free Cuba,” was a rallying cry during the war. Russell ordered a Bacardi with Coke and lime and toasted with the old battle cry.
It probably wasn’t that simple, though. As Jason Wilson notes in The Washington Post, the Cuba Libré used to be more than just a rum and coke with a lime twist. It also had a dash or two of Angostura bitters and likely had gin in it as well. (Oh, yeah, all Coca-Cola made before 1903 had cocaine in it as well.)
But Bacardi is sticking with its story. Just don’t ask about Havana Club rum (a popular brand sold in Cuba that can now make it into the United States, directly competing with Bacardi’s Havana Club rum).
Regardless, it’s time to suck down some Cuba Librés. The classic mix is two ounces of light rum, juice from half a lime and some Coke. Build it over ice in a Tom Collins or highball glass and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and toast up.