A Hot New Twist On The Cuba Libre

The Cuba libre's history and lineage may have been lost to decades of political unrest, passionate nationalism and attempted brand trademarks, but as it evolved over the years, there's no doubt many still enjoy this reliable taste of the islands — especially Italians. In the surf towns near Cinque Terre, Cuba libres (not rum and cokes) are all the rage, but few have ventured to make this drink in a more Italian, let alone high-brow, fashion. At Locanda Verde in NYC's Tribeca neighborhood, the Italian influence runs throughout, and when it came to reinventing the Cuba libre, they set out to find an interpretation that would still be true to the drink's roots.

For the Agri-Cola cocktail, Locanda's beverage team of Amy Troiano and Jess Goldfarb started with a blend of Agricole rhums and a cachaça, which can be more earthy and complex than standard rums due to their sugarcane base. Though pungent, the Cuba libre is no stranger to robust spirits, with a high-proof 151 rum often used. Contrasting with the Agri-Cola's funky trio of aromatic rhums is a bit of fruit sweetness via Locanda's house-made grenadine syrup, along with the standard lime squeeze and top-off of Chinotto soda, taking things in a more bitter direction.

It's not easy to make a classic drink complex and still hit the mark, and while the Cuba libres we're used to might have a more cloying taste, the rum, or rhums in this case, are what make this cocktail sing with the Chinotto balancing it all out. Though unassuming, this simple and well-thought-out variation could likely turn anyone into an avid rum aficionado. Enjoy.

Cuba Libre

Serving: 1 cocktail

  • 1 ounce white rum
  • 1/2 ounce Goslings Black Seal 151 Rum
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Mexican Coca-Cola or Kola Tonic
  • Directions:

  • In a collins glass, build ingredients by rum, lime, and simple syrup over ice.
  • Fill the remainder of the glass with Mexican Coke or Kola Tonic.
  • Garnish with a straw and lime wedge.
  • Agri-Cola cocktail

    Serving: 1 cocktail

  • 1/2 ounce Rhum Clement Premiere Cannes
  • 1/2 ounce Rhum Barbancourt 8 Year
  • 1/2 ounce Avua Prata Cachaca
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce house-made spiced grenadine
  • San Pellegrino Chinotto
  • Directions:

  • Combine ingredients into shaker tin and shake with ice.
  • Strain over ice into a highball glass and top with Chinotto.
  • Stir briefly, garnish with a lime wheel and add a straw.
  • Prep time: 3 minutes

    Difficulty: Easy

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