Cuba Libre literally translates to “free Cuba,” which provides for an interesting story behind this classic cocktail. Traditionally, this cocktail consists of cola, lime juice, and rum.
However, if you're looking for a non-alcoholic version of this drink, there are plenty of delicious recipes that you can try that’ll make you wonder why you ever thought you needed rum in the first place.
Get ready to brush up on some Spanish, history, and flavor as we walk you through the history of the Cuba Libre and then dazzle you with a delicious non-alcoholic recipe to try so you, too, can enjoy this tropical cocktail.
The History of the Cuba Libre
The Cuba Libre is a classic cocktail that has been enjoyed for generations. While the exact origin of the Cuba Libre is uncertain, the most likely story is that it was created in Havana, Cuba in the early 1900s.
As legend has it, an American soldier actually accidentally created the drink while stationed in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. After the liberation of the country from Spanish rule, he mixed rum and cola together to celebrate while shouting “Cuba Libre!”
Bacardí claims that their brand of alcohol was used to quench the soldiers' thirst. And, you often hear people ordering a “Bacardí and coke” or a simple “rum and coke.” They’re all just synonymous with the official name of the cocktail: Cuba Libre.
However, other stories tell a taller tale and date the drink all the way back to the Ten Years War from 1868 to 1878. Reportedly, soldiers were already sippin’ rum during those days. And, they mixed it with honey or molasses and aguardiente.
However, the drink was not always non-alcoholic. In fact, as you can see, the original recipe called for rum to be added to the mix. It wasn't until the 1950s that the non-alcoholic version of the drink became popular.
Today, people all over the world enjoy the non-alcoholic version of the Cuba Libre. Yep, even when they’re not sipping sweet drinks seaside with the sound of swaying palm trees in the distance (although, wow, that does sound great right now).
What Goes Into a Cuba Libre?
The Cuba Libre recipe is pretty simple: all you need is cola, lime, and some sort of rum extract.
The most important ingredient, though, is the lime. This is the very small distinction between a traditional “rum and coke” and the full-on Cuba Libre recipe. However, there are many variations, so it’s definitely up to what tastes good to you.
Likewise, a traditional Cuba Libre is made with white rum, but you can use any kind of rum extract, including non-alcoholic rum-inspired drinks to add the taste without the alcohol.
Our recommendation is that, when adding a rum-inspired non-alcoholic spirit, be sure to add it slowly and taste as you go. Too much rum flavoring can make your drink too sweet.
As for the cola, any kind will do. This is where a few of the more interesting variations come in. You can get creative and use Dr. Pepper if you want even! We’d suggest playing around, but also suggest sticking with darker colas (so avoid Sprite, Ginger Ale, etc.).
And if you want to get really fancy, you can garnish your drink with a lime wedge or a sprig of mint. Really, no matter how you make it, a non-alcoholic Cuba Libre is a refreshing and delicious way to enjoy the classic flavor of rum without the alcohol.
What Glass Do You Serve a Cuba Libre In?
While you can technically serve a Cuba Libre in any type of glass, there are certain glasses that are better suited for this drink.
A tall, slender glass such as a highball or Collins glass is a good option. This type of glass will allow the drink to retain its carbonation and prevent the ice from melting too quickly.
If you want to get really fancy, you can even use a copper mug. This traditional drinking mug adds an extra bit of flair to your Cuba Libre and looks great on any bar cart.
However, the point is that you should stick to a highball glass as the drink, even in its non-alcoholic form, features a carbonated soda. Any time you’re adding carbonation to a drink, it’s best to serve it in some sort of highball glass to preserve the bubbles.
Regardless of which type of glass you use, you’ll likely follow the same order of adding the ingredients to the drink, though. Always start with ice, then add your non-alcoholic rum, and then finally add the cola.
Non-Alcoholic Versions of a Cuba Libre
We understand the appeal of a Cuba Libre. Unlike somewhat more complex cocktails such as a non-alcoholic Whiskey Sour that requires eggs and simple syrup, for example, a Cuba Libre is a super simple drink to make with three simple ingredients.
What do you need to make a non-alcoholic Cuba Libre?
- Non-alcoholic rum alternative
However, we will note that there are a few different ways to make a non-alcoholic Cuba Libre. One option is to simply omit the rum from the recipe. This will result in a drink that is still flavorful and refreshing but lacks the booze and flavor of rum entirely.
Another option is to replace the rum with a non-alcoholic alternative, such as a non-alcoholic rum alternative. We definitely suggest this second option as you deserve to enjoy the rich, complex flavor and aroma of rum.
When paired with the right non-alcoholic rum, such as our Biscane Rum alternative, you get the sweet scent of sugar cane and molasses along with the sophisticated flavors of regular rum. However, you get none of the negative effects of real alcohol or calories.
Oh, yeah, we forgot to mention that! Non-alcoholic alternatives are often way healthier. Our Biscane Rum alternative, for example, only has 1g of sugar and is gluten-free and vegan. With all of the same flavors, why not opt for a healthier alternative?
The Best Non-Alcoholic Cuba Libre Recipe
Okay, it’s the moment you’ve waited for. Ready to read through all of the ins and outs of the best Cuba Libre recipe? Well, obviously, the best Cuba Libre drink recipe features non-alcoholic rum.
Yep, it’s just as tasty as the Cuba Libre recipe original versions, just with less sugar, more flavor, and no hangover. Follow along and feel free to add in your own little twists and dashes of flavor to suit your taste buds.
The key to making a delicious Cuba Libre is to use fresh ingredients and to balance the sweetness of the rum with the acidity of the lime juice.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 3 ounces of Coca-Cola (or similar alternative)
- 1-ounce rum alternative
- Ice cubes
As mentioned above, most Cuba Libre recipes call for Coca-Cola. However, depending on where you live in the world, what’s available to you, and what your taste buds prefer, you can substitute it for another type of cola drink.
Some interesting ones to try are:
- Dr. Pepper
- Mexican Coca-Cola
- Diet Coke
For an additional twist, you can also try substituting the lime for orange or lemon. Adding lemon will give it an especially citrusy twist while adding orange makes it a bit fruitier.
Cuba Libre Mocktail Recipe
A non-alcoholic Cuba Libre recipe is a refreshing mocktail that is perfect for upcoming summer parties. Take the ingredients above and follow our directions in order to make the most refreshing, non-alcoholic version of this cocktail recipe possible.
First, we suggest that you rub the rim of a highball glass with one of the lime wedges, then dip it in sugar if you’re looking for a touch of added sweetness. This isn’t necessary, but it can help cut down on the acidity of the lime.
Next, fill the glass with ice cubes. It’s important to do this first as it helps ensure that the mix is just right. Then, add your Coca-Cola (or substitute) and the rum alternative.
Here, it’s important that you don’t shake the drink or stir vigorously. Stir gently to mix the ingredients together. Then, squeeze a little lime into the drink itself.
Finally, garnish with the remaining lime wedge and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Delight Your Taste Buds with Other Non-Alcoholic Spirits
Finding the perfect Cuba Libre recipe in order to make a delicious non-alcoholic drink is only the beginning. The possibilities of delightful non-alcoholic mocktail mixes are endless when you get to know our line of non-alcoholic spirits.
From whiskey alternatives and vodka alternatives to a tequila alternative that tastes so good you’ll swear it’s real, we offer a delectable line of non-alcoholic spirits to choose from.
Interested in learning more about the options available? Get to know all of our non-alcoholic spirits. Then, be sure to head over to the mocktail section so you can start mixing and tasting today.