Salud! Cuban Cocktails, Rum and Cigars
What better thoughts conjure up images of life in Old Havana than spending a leisurely afternoon in an outdoor café with good friends, and rum and cigars while enjoying one of the signature cocktails for which Cuba is famous? Refreshing drinks meant to counter the sweltering heat are typically made with fresh tropical fruit, local ingredients, and plenty of ice. The key local ingredient? Cuban rum. Few combinations are better than the marriage of rum and cigars, and neither of them has to be Cuban for you to enjoy them!
The Most Famous – The Mojito
The mojito is the drink most synonymous with Cuba. A mojito is to Cuba, as a Pina Colada is to Puerto Rico or a Manhattan is to… Manhattan! Typically it is a simple combination of rum, soda water, fresh lime juice, sugar, and of course, fresh, crushed mint.
Over the years there have been numerous variations. Substitutions include tequila or vodka. At its heart, a true Cuban mojito is always rum-based. While enjoying a mojito, we recommend a cigar that isn’t shy with its flavor. Something that can stand up to the drink’s tart, sweetness, and a brisk hint of mint. A nice, fat Nicaraguan Gordo with a Maduro wrapper that packs a punch is our choice to go the distance with the bounty of flavors in the cocktail.
Go Bananas! The Daiquiri
Not all daiquiris have to be made with bananas or strawberries, or any fruit for that matter (beyond maraschino cherries). Legend points to its creation in the village of Daiquiri by a mining engineer. It gained fame in the 1930s in a frozen version served at the bar Floridita, which was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite watering holes.
The basic version is white rum, sugar, lemon juice, and maraschino cherries. Ernest Hemingway preferred the “Papa Doble,” which was a double shot of rum, and easy on the sugar. To honor the man and the myth, we recommend any Cuban cigar you are lucky enough to get your hands on. In reality, Ernest Hemingway smoked cigarettes while he was a wartime correspondent; he never really enjoyed cigars. It was always his ties to Cuba that enhanced that myth.
Keep it Simple! Cuba Libre
Sometimes the basic recipes are the most timeless. The Cuba Libre sprung to life in the early 1900s when Coca-Cola began exporting its colas to Cuba. The name, Cuba Libre, which translates to “Free Cuba” referenced Cuba’s newly won freedom from Spain. It consists of cola, rum, and a splash of lime, and is usually served in a tall glass with plenty of ice.
Given the simple, everyday aspect of the ingredients, we recommend pairing it with your favorite everyday smoker. A nice Connecticut shade wrapper, preferable a Lonsdale will last as long as the drink does, so you may maximize your enjoyment time.
The Long Game
Remember, in order to make these drinks as authentic as possible, you need to keep your ingredients as fresh as possible. Always make sure you have an ample supply of ice as well! By all means, feel free to take some liberties with the recipes to make your own little slice of Havana. As far as we can tell, there are no wrong combinations, especially when it comes to your choice of rum and cigars to complement the cocktails! Cheers!
Photo credit: Watch Collecting Lifestyle