Wednesday, November 18, 2009


A few weeks ago while working my way through the 100 cocktails Bobby Heugel of Anvil in Houston thinks everyone should try at least once list, I was confronted with the Cuba Libre. The Cuba Libre is a step up from a standard Rum and Coke by including lime juice and often lime peel oils to the mix. To prepare for this drink, I hunted out sugar coke (not the high fructose variety) from a local Brazilian mini-mart for use later that evening. Both Charles H. Baker in Jigger, Beaker and Glass and Trader Vic in one of the recipes found in his Bartender's Guide had a similar recipe which I went with:
Cuba Libre
• 2 oz Gold or Light Rum
• Juice of 1 Lime (~ 1 oz)
• Lime Shells (2 Halves) after Squeezing
Place ingredients in Collins glass and muddle the lime shells well to get oils on the side of glass. Add ice, fill with Coca Cola (~ 4 oz), and give a quick stir.

Rum and Coke
• 2 oz Light Rum
• 4 oz Coca Cola
Build in a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a lime wedge.
While some recipe sources for the Cuba Libre skip the lime shell muddling and just request dropping in the shells, the lime oils do add a bit to the drink. Moreover, I was surprised that some Cuba Libre recipes are indistinguishable from a standard Rum and Coke. However, skipping the lime juice would remove some of the complexity besides making the drink seem sweeter.

When thinking about how the Cuba Libre is a step up from a Rum and Coke, I wondered if there was yet another step up from that while still in the realm of highball cola drinks. My search led me to the Mandeville (Polar) which was most likely named after the city in Jamaica. I combined a few recipes to make the following hybrid:
• 1 oz Light Rum (Tommy Bahama White Sand)
• 1 oz Dark Rum (Appleton Estate VX)
• 1/4 oz Pernod
• 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
• 1/4 oz Grenadine
Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top off with 3 oz Coca Cola, and garnish with an orange slice. Optional: Prepare in a 200 mL soda bottle after pouring out half the soda volume; serve with straw.
The Mandeville's garnish provided a wonderful orange nose which prepared the senses for the citrus notes in the lemon juice and the cola. The crispness of the lemon's citric acid and the soda's phosphoric acid hit first in the sip followed by a muddled fruit flavor from the citrus and grenadine. The Pernod came through on the swallow along with some of the white rum's heat. To me, it was all about the Pernod giving the drink some extra class. I found the Pernod and coke flavors to be quite complementary which may not be too surprising considering the spice extracts that are allegedly in the Coca Cola recipe. The hint of anise in the Mandeville also lent the drink a slight Tiki feel.

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