The Cuba Libre (IPA /'kuβ̞a'liβ̞ɾe/ in Spanish, kjuːbʌ liːbɹeɪ/ in English, "Free Cuba"), sometimes called Cubalibre, is a highball made of Cola, lime, and rum. This highball is often referred to as a Rum and Coke in the United States and Canada, where the lime juice is optional. Bacardi claims ownership of the original, while some have also claimed it for Havana Club. It seems unlikely, however, that anyone could safely identify the first individual to combine rum and Coca-Cola —when seven or eight individuals lay claim to the creation of the Margarita, a far more complex drink— let alone identify the brand.
However, there are some problems with Bacardi's account, as the Spanish-American war was fought in 1898, Cuba's liberation was in 1898, and the Rough Riders left Cuba in September 1898, but Coca-Cola was not available in Cuba until 1900. According to a 1965 deposition by Fausto Rodriguez, the Cuba Libre was first mixed at a Cuban bar in August of 1900 by a member of the U.S. Signal Corps, referred to as "John Doe".
Soon enough, as Charles H. Baker points out in his Gentlemen's Companion of 1934, the Cuba Libre "caught on everywhere throughout [[U.S. Southern States|the [American] South]] ... filtered through the North and West," aided by the ample supply of its ingredients. In The American Language, 1921, H.L. Mencken writes of an early variation of the drink: "The troglodytes of western South Carolina coined 'jump stiddy' for a mixture of Coca-Cola and denatured alcohol (usually drawn from automobile radiators); connoisseurs reputedly preferred the taste of what had been aged in Model-T Fords." This comment throws further doubt on Bacardi's account of the drink's Cuban origins.
The drink gained further popularity in the United States after the Andrews Sisters recorded a song (in 1945) named after the drink's ingredients, "Rum and Coca-Cola." Cola and rum were both cheap at the time and this also contributed to the widespread popularity of the concoction.
Various characters voiced by talk radio host Phil Hendrie on The Phil Hendrie Show have been known to order rum and Coca-Cola. Captain Morgans and Coca-Cola is Chris Norton's drink of choice, while Ted Bell claims to have been the first person ever to mix rum and Coca-Cola. Ted Bell serves Captain Morgans and Coke at his fictitious restaurant, Ted's of Beverly Hills, where the drink is known as "The Ted".
In the American award-winning comedy The Big Bang Theory, the character of Sheldon attempts to order a Diet Coke, but is denied and is asked to order a cocktail instead. He orders a "Virgin Cuba Libre" (which is Rum and Coke, minus the Rum). Sheldon also comments on how a Cuba Libre is served in a long, slender glass with a wedge of lime.
A recent variation is the Coppertone which specifically uses Malibu Rum (rum with a natural coconut extract) and Cherry Coke (or Cherry Pepsi or Cherry RC Cola) for the cola component. The resulting drink has an aroma not entirely unlike suntan lotion and the name is an allusion to that.
Some people substitute Cream Soda and spiced rum to create a bright gold drink, often referred to as a Midas.
Another recent variatio nis the Venezuela Libre, inspired by the now-increasing similarities between Venezuela and Cuba. It has 1.5 ounces of Venezuelan White Rum, 1.5 ounces of Venezuelan Gold Rum, 3 ounces of lemon mix, 1 lemon wedge and a dash of angostura bitters, diet coke is used instead of normal coke.
In Italy Vincenzo and his good friends drink it ONLY with brown/dark/navy rum
In Spain Rioja Libre is an alternate name for Kalimotxo, a mixture of Spanish red wine and cola popular among the young people. It is named after the Rioja wine region. Cuba Libre is also called "Ron-Cola" in Spain.
In Australia, where the drink enjoys huge popularity, it is known simply as Rum and Coke. It is sold pre-mixed in cans.
In the Netherlands the drink is commonly called Baco, from the two ingredients of Bacardi and coke.