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Drink Fri Mar 06 2009
I won't beat around the bush--the Cuba Libre is basically a Rum & Coke, but this is what it's called in the 1947 Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide (relied on by the owner of Weegee's, and if that's not a ringing endorsement for this book, I don't know what is).
I chose this because I really want to talk about the importance of measurement in mixing a proper cocktail. This week I went to a bar for a Rum & Coke, and the bartender filled a small glass with ice, poured a lot of rum in it, and then topped it off with not much more than a splash of cola. It tasted awful. After a couple of sips, I actually went back to the bar to ask to have it poured into a bigger glass with more coke added. Only then was it palatable.
A lot of bartenders think they're doing you a favor by pouring liquor with a heavy hand. They're not.
You may get drunk more quickly, but it's not as an enjoyable process as when a drink is properly measured out. And really, drinking for enjoyment is a much better way to go.
If you measure the ingredients carefully, they'll blend together perfectly. In a mixed drink like the Cuba Libre, you can really tell the difference when the proportions are off. Try it at home and see. Make sure you have a jigger (stainless steel measure) or two--they come in different sizes--and it also doesn't hurt to have another liquid measure on hand to cover odd amounts.
The Trader Vic's book suggests these ingredients, shaken with cracked ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass:
1 oz. rum
1 oz. cola
juice of 1/2 lime (about 1/4 oz.)
A quickie version is to pour the same ingrediencts into a rocks glass filled with ice and stir.
You'll notice that this drink as written is pretty strong (and in a rocks glass, it doesn't look like much). If you want it weaker, add cola one ounce at a time until you get the desired taste. If you want it a bigger portion, just double both ingredients. You should notice a difference when the ingredients are in proportion, rather than free-poured. They blend better, and the overall effect is a much more elegant drink that you can enjoy, rather than something you want to chug so you can forget how it tastes.