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Let’s talk about a classic. Dubbed the worlds most popular drink, Rum & Coke has been the ‘go-to’ drink for rum fans for decades!

Despite the popularity, there is some confusion and a question often comes up – ‘Is a Rum & Coke and a Cuba Libre the same?

At first glance, they might seem identical, but there is one key ingredient that makes all the difference: A splash of fresh lime juice.

The lime juice adds a refreshing zest that balances the sweetness of the cola and the richness of the rum and creates a distinct difference between the 2 drinks.


The Rum & Coke has been a popular choice for decades, with its simplicity appealing to a wide audience. It’s a straightforward mix with no real definitive origin, evolving as a casual way to enjoy Rum.

The Cuba Libre on the other hand has a much more storied yet debated origin – deeply rooted in the struggle for Cuba’s independence from Spanish rule and the subsequent American influence on the island.

The most commonly accepted story of the Cuba Libre’s inception dates back to the Spanish-American War in 1898. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris, which granted Cuba independence from Spain, though the island fell under US protection. This period marked a significant increase in American cultural and economic American influence in Cuba.

The cocktail itself is believed to have been created around 1900. According to popular lore, it was first mixed in Havana, Cuba, but American soldiers stationed on the island during or shortly after the Spanish-American War. The drink symbolized the celebratory mood following the end of Spanish control. The combination of Cuban Rum with American Coca-Cola and lime was a representation of the unity between the two countries.

The name ‘Cuba Libre’, which means Free Cuba, was supposedly coined in this context, as a toast to Cuba’s newly won independence.

There is a chance that rum and cola-type drinks existed before this event, however the specific name and widespread popularity of the Cuba Libre are closely tied to this historical narrative.

Over the years, the Cuba Libre has remained a popular drink worldwide, transcending its original political connotations to become a staple of cocktail menus.


The Rum & Coke is often adapted by changing the type of rum used. While typically made with white rum, the drink’s profile can be changed by using aged rum or dark rum, and more recently, spiced rum has become a very popular rum to mix with cola. Some variations call for a lemon or lime garnish to bridge towards a Cuba Libre.

While the Cuba Libre can also be adapted with a different type of rum, the more common variation is adjusting the amount of lime used, the type of citrus used or using different types of cola e.g. diet or artisanal colas.

The Cuba Libre stands out not just for its taste but also for its historical significance and the sense of freedom and celebration it embodies. Meanwhile, the Rum & Coke remains a beloved, easy to make cocktail that serves as a versatile foundation for numerous variations, allowing individuals to tailor it to their personal preferences.

Our Recommendation

Whether simply mixing a Rum & Coke or crafting the perfect Cuba Libre we prefer to used an aged rum. The use of aged rum adds a delicious complexity to the flavor profile and removes the typical burn often associated with using an un-aged white rum.

The Rum & Coke

For the rum and coke, we typically reach for our 3 year aged white rum. The slightly higher 86 proof cuts through the sweetness of the cola, allowing more of the complex rum flavors to shine through in a perfect balance. Our most common ratio is 1:3 i.e. 1oz rum to 3oz of cola, which we find gives the best balance of flavors for a refreshing and enjoyable cocktail.

The Cuba Libre

When mixing a Cuba Libre, the addition of the lime juice helps cut the sweetness of the cola, so we are able to use a rum with a more delicate and complex flavor profile that won’t get lost in the sweetness. In this case, our 12-Year aged rum elevates this cocktail with its barrel character and lightly herbal notes which blend perfectly with the cola and lime.

Get our Cuba Libre cocktail Recipe HERE!

Discover The BACOO Rum Range HERE!

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