Serious Eats: Recipes
You might think of the Cuba Libre as a simple rum and Coke, but there's more to it than just that.
The Cuba Libre originated, naturally, in Cuba, during a free-Cuba movement that sprung up just after the Spanish-American War. The Cuba Libre originally called for the juice of one lime in addition to the rum and the Coke, and the lime juice makes all the difference.
If you're only familiar with Rum and Coke as a sticky-sweet party drink, the lime-infused version may surprise you. The lime marries well with the rum, of course, but it also delightfully complements the flavors of Coke, and it provides just enough tartness to cut through the sweetness of the drink. Use a darker rum—a gold or an anejo—to further tamp down Coke's sweetness.
I like to drop the shell of half a lime into the serving glass and muddle the citrus oils from the skin into the cocktail. The oils add more tartness and a bit of extra complexity to the cocktail. You can certainly skip this step.