Cuba Libre: The Dominican Drink of Choice

The most solicited mixed drink in the Dominican Republic is by far the Cuba Libre (Free Cuba). Although odd the word “Cuba” is included in the Dominican Republic’s most popular mixed drink, no other alcoholic concoction is as cultural as a classic Cuba Libre. Knowing this, proud Dominicans have put their own spin on the popular drink.

Rum and Coke

The Drink’s History

The origins of the Cuba Libre name are fuzzy but one widely accepted story is that of a group of American soldiers who sat down at a Cuban bar at the end of the Spanish American War in 1898. The United States had just defeated Spain in the war, helping Cuba gain their independence. One of the American soldiers ordered rum, soda, ice cubes and a lime wedge. The drink sparked the curiosity of others and they quickly ordered the new concoction. It is said that one soldier suggested a toast of “Por Cuba Libre!” (For Free Cuba!) in honor of their recent separation from Spanish rule. 

Ordering your own Cuba Libre

No matter what the name’s origins might be, sipping a cold Cuba Libre is part of Dominican culture. At a bar or club, your Cuba Libre might be served in a glass but as everything (especially alcohol) is shared in the Dominican Republic you can also ask for a “servicio” if there’s several people in your party. This will always include a small bucket of ice, Coke or Pepsi, a bottle of rum and lime. 

Not sure what rum to choose? The most popular local brands are Brugal and Barcelo. We recommend something aged so it goes down smooth but not too high end since you’re mixing. Try Brugal Extra Viejo or Barcelo Gran Anejo.  

During your trip to Punta Cana you’ll also see “Santo Libre” as a bar menu option. This is the local Dominican twist on the Cuba Libre – Santo coming from the Dominican capital Santo Domingo. The Santo Libre simply substitutes Coke or Pepsi for Sprite or 7-Up and prevents us proud Dominicans from saying Cuba!

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