A Cuba Libre

Bacardi Ad from 1950sCuba has been on my mind lately, maybe because of the Chicas. Maybe because one of my Cuban writing friends e-mailed me a week or so ago to say that the lines from Miami to NJ were buzzing about Castro’s death. (FYI — NJ has the second largest population of Cubans in the U.S.)

Unfortunately, Castro’s death wasn’t confirmed by anyone, but the thought of a Cuba finally free of the old dictator has lingered in my brain. A free Cuba — Cuba Libre.

Cuba Libre is also the name of a drink that has been around since the Spanish-American War when American soldiers took Coca-Cola with them to Cuba. The “Cuba Libre” was created and consisted of Coca-Cola, BACARDI rum, and a lime wedge. (Info and 1950s Bacardi ad courtesy of www.cuban-exile.com) Many Cubans refer to this drink as a mentirita which means “a small lie”. Libre means free, and of course, Cuba isn’t “free”.

Now I know I always have the Chicas drinking mojitos, but for Cubans, it is also quite common to have a Cuba Libre.

Here’s the recipe for the menterita otherwise known as a Cuba Libre:
1 shot rum
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola

Put all of the above in a highball glass. Rub the rim of the glass with a wedge of lime and toss the lime wedge into the glass.

What kind of rum you wonder? Well, many people will say only Havana Club will do, but you can’t get Havana Club in the U.S.

Any gold Bacardi rum is good because gold rums are sweeter than the white. If you want to really treat yourself, consider Bacardi Black. It’s a 4 year-old rum with lots of fruitiness and sweetness. DON Q from Puerto Rico is also rumored to be good for this drink, but I’ve never tried it myself.

Another thing you can do — make the Cuba Libre with Diet Coke. Not as sweet, but still tasty. I haven’t tried making the drink with Coke Zero, but if you have, let me know!

Have you noticed one thing yet about Cuban cocktails, or at least the ones that I like? They are all sweet! What else would you expect from the land of sugar.

Speaking of sugar, I’m eagerly awaiting the debut of CANE with Jimmy Smits and Nestor Carbonell. I never thought Smits was attractive until I saw him on Broadway and he took my breath away. He was powerful and elegant. Wow! was all I could say when the show finished.

Nestor Carbonell is a Cubanito and a handsome one at that. Maybe we’ll do more on him and Jimmy one of these Guilty Pleasures Mondays.

Anyway, CANE is about a Cuban-American family who runs a sugar and rum business. It also has Hector Elizondo and Rita Moreno, so the cast is filled with talent. Let’s hope the story line will have us addicted and needing a weekly sugar fix.

CANE premieres on Tuesday, September 25, 10pm et/pt on CBS.

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