Cigar Culture

Our Favorite Cuban Cocktails & Drinks

Holt's Staff Cigar's picture

Holt's Staff

Cuba may be famous for its “delicioso” cigars, but the island nation’s cocktails carry an equal allure. With summer weather in full swing, let’s get some traditional Cuban cocktails on the radar for those hot, humid days when the perfect blend of taste and refreshment is called for.

Experience the Spirits of Cuba

Cuban drinks have gained so much recognition over the years that they’re some of the most popular drinks in clubs, bars and beaches across the world. The only thing better than a Cuban drink … is indulging in a premium cigar at the same time. Here are some of our favorite beverages to enjoy with your next summer cigar.

Mojito

Let’s start the cocktail list off with a bang! The mojito is probably the most famous Cuban cocktail – and with good reason. It’s the perfect ratio of refreshing ingredients and robust flavor. While rum is the original alcoholic base, the mojito has seen a variety of offshoots with tequila, gin, soju and more. Rum is then mixed with club soda, muddled mint leaves, and a little sugar or simple syrup for added sweetness. If there’s a beach in front of you, you’re sure to find a mojito nearby.

Origin: Like most origin stories, it’s hard to lockdown one, exact starting point for the mojito. One theory suggests that it dates back hundreds of years (before it got the name “mojito”) to when Havanans would consume a beverage comprised of similar ingredients. Another origin story traces the drink back to a similar 16th century drink known as the “El Draque,” named after Sir Francis Drake. A third theory gives credit to the African slaves who worked in the Cuban sugar cane fields during the 19th century. These slaves frequently drank guarapo (sugar cane juice) and aptly named the drink.

Cigar Pairing: Ashton Cabinet works wonders with the crisp, refreshing edges of a mojito. The all-Dominican interior is crafted from a marvelous recipe of premium vintage tobaccos beneath a glistening Connecticut Shade wrapper leaf aged and blended by legendary cigar-maker Carlito Fuente. Notes of toasted almonds, vanilla, and coffee beans develop a luscious background with creamy spices.

Daiquiri

If the mojito is Cuba’s number one renowned beverage, then the daiquiri is a close second. Another rum-based alcoholic drink (an obvious Cuban rum drink theme here), it’s made with ice, lemon juice and sugar. After its popularity boomed, the daiquiri saw various renditions and flavors such as banana and strawberry.

Origin: The daiquiri was concocted by an American iron miner named Jennings Cox in the early 20th century near (wait for it) Daiquiri, a small village in eastern Cuba. The drink’s popularity later extended to the rest of Cuba and the U.S. via troops stationed in the country. Most notably, daiquiris were one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinks, so much so that there’s a drink called the Hemingway Daiquiri named for the author. The tailored daiquiri calls for white Havana rum, fresh grapefruit juice, lime juice, Luxardo Maraschino Liquer, simple syrup, and is garnished with a grapefruit twist.

Cigar Pairing: Rocky Patel Vintage 1999 is handcrafted with a Connecticut Shade wrapper and a complex combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan long-fillers. Notes of chestnuts, buttered toast, and black pepper lead to an elegant, approachable finish that satisfies alongside the sugary flair and flavor of a daiquiri.

Cuba Libre

Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest splash. Such is the case for the Cuba Libre, which is essentially nothing more than a traditional rum and coke with a hint of lime juice.

Origin: The name Cuba Libre means “Free Cuba,” referring to Cuba’s newfound independence from Spain. The story goes that U.S. soldiers stationed in Cuba during the Spanish-American War toasted to their Cuban comrades’ freedom in a bar by ordering a rum and a Coca-Cola. The name Cuba Libre stuck and with Coca-Cola being a new import to Cuba in 1900, the rest is history.

Cigar Pairing: San Cristobal Revelation stacks up nicely with a Cuba Libre. Its profile of caramel, spice, and cedar delivers a leathery medium-bodied finish that is creamy and rich. Celebrated master blender Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia blends San Cristobal to a top-rated standard.

El Presidente

You don’t need to speak Spanish to translate this Cuban cocktail. The President is a cocktail that mixes white Havana rum, vermouth, Curacao, grenadine, and cracked ice.

Origin: In an effort to cheer Gerado Machado, the Cuban president who gave the country their Capitol building and central highway while promising to turn Cuba into the “Switzerland of the Americas,” the El Presidente was born! Although Machado isn’t typically credited for creating the drink, it achieved a widespread following in the 1920s during the height of his popularity.

Cigar Pairing: Arturo Fuente Hemingway is drafted from a delicious Cameroon wrapper leaf over premium binder and filler tobaccos blended by renowned cigar-maker Carlito Fuente. Sweet spices, wood, and brown sugar feature prominently in a handful of medium-bodied, Perfecto-shaped gems.

Cubanito

Think of the Cubanito as a traditional Bloody Mary, but simplified to include white Havana rum, lemon juice, tomato juice, spicy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Unlike its American cousin, there’s no pickle spear and definitely no bacon in this Cuban brunch beverage.

Origin: While the origin of Cubanito is about as foggy as the drink itself, one thing that is certain is that not all Cubans prefer the spicy nature of the drink. Unlike their Mexican neighbors who love spicy foods, most Cubans tend to prefer sugary drinks (if you couldn’t tell by the numerous sugary drinks on the list). Therefore, the Cubanito doesn’t have near the following (particularly in Cuba) as other Cuban rum drinks like the mojito or the daiquiri.

Cigar Pairing: Oliva Connecticut Reserve kicks in with buttery and nutty flavors that deliver a mild to medium-bodied finish and ample Nicaraguan spices. An all-Nicaraguan core rests beneath a golden-blond Ecuador Connecticut wrapper leaf.

These are just a few tried-and-true favorite Cuban cocktails. Mix one up for yourself and experience the flavor of Cuba while you’re lounging poolside this summer. Enjoy!

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