Over the past couple of years, we’ve definitely reviewed rums that should be relegated to Rum Runners, Daiquiris, Pina Colada, or Mojitos only. This month we researched What Rum Makes the Best Cuba Libre.
What makes a Cuba Libre different from a Rum and Coke?
A Rum and Coke is just those two ingredients served in anything from a red Solo Cup to a highball glass. A Cuba Libre, on the other hand, is a finely crafted cocktail that pays particular attention to a key ingredient – lime. Oh sure rum is a key component, but without the lime there is no Cuba Libre. For our test we coated the ice in a highball glass with the juice of a half of lime, added 2 ounces of rum, 4 ounces of Coke and a twist of lime on the rim.
The rums used range from silver to dark and hail from a variety of regions. All have at least some character on the nose. Here are our findings:
Wicked Dolphin Silver – Florida
This silver rum has a sweet nose of butterscotch and pure cane sugar so we had hopes it would do nicely in this cocktail. The rum actually makes the Coke taste flat and overly accentuates the lime making our cheeks pucker from the tartness. (2 of 5)
Cruzan Single Barrel – St. Croix
This golden rum has vanilla, molasses, orange and oak on the nose but doesn’t carry through on the palate or finish. In a Cuba Libre, the rum partners more with the Coke to overpower the lime. The drink tastes more like a traditional Rum and Coke. (2.25 of 5)
Appleton Reserve – Jamaica
While Appleton has a very inviting nose of caramel and oak it bites on the palate and finish. As a Cuba Libre though, there is an earthiness that is a great compliment to the Coke and lime. We find the oak note plays well with the lime making this a unique, refreshing cocktail. (3.5 of 5)
Mount Gay 1703 Black Barrel – Barbados
As a sipping rum, this golden ranks high on our scale due to the oak, cherry and vanilla notes and the bourbon-like finish. In the cocktail, the oak really shines, balancing out the syrup of the Coke and the bite of the lime without completely overpowering either. This is Clint’s favorite. (4.25 of 5)
Made in the Cuban tradition, Matusalem has the dark richness we typically seek in a sipping rum, however it lacks character from nose to finish. As a Cuba Libre, much like the Mount Gay, the rum compliments the sweetness of the Coke allowing the lime to be the star of the drink. Definitely Terry’s favorite. (4.25 of 5)
What Rum Makes the Best Cuba Libre? Looks like our favorites are the Mount Gay 1703 Black Barrel and the Matusalem Gran Reserva Solera 15
So breakout your golden and dark rums and begin experimenting with this refreshing cocktail. Let us know your favorite is so we can try it too. [email protected]
Sipping Rum Scale
1 – An expensive mixer
2 – A quick celebratory shot
3 – Wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with friends
4 – Are my friends worthy of a sip
5 – Special moments rum