Grand Rapids Cocktail Guild - USBG

- - - - - - OFFICIAL CHAPTER OF THE UNITED STATES BARTENDING GUILD - - - - - - -a local collegiate of experienced professionals working to develop, enrich, and share the history, art, culture, and enjoyment of the distilled spirit

Cuba Libre to A Possible Dream, by Jenney Grant [Coppercraft Distillery]

When a friend of mine was studying in Ecuador, someone asked her host father what a Cuba Libre was, and his answer was: an impossible dream. When making our newest cocktail, A Possible Dream, I thought a lot about this story, but decided to choose a more optimistic name for our cocktail--which in the very least was inspired by the Cuba Libre.

For those of you who do not know, a Cuba Libre is the "cocktail version" of a rum-and-coke. Many a bartenders will tell you it is, in fact, just a rum and Coke, but I would like to argue (and do in my "Cocktails 101" classes) the difference between a Cuba Libre and a rum-and-Coke is in fact the difference between a mixed drink and a cocktail.

You see, a rum-and-Coke is often a glass of ice, rum poured over it and then soda from a gun on top of that. If you are lucky, you may have a bartender who actually stirs it, and if you are really lucky you might get a wedge of lime tossed on top. But a Cuba Libre is a crafted cocktail.  First, you start by muddling 1/4 – 1/2 of a lime in a glass. Muddling the lime with the skin of the lime is going to pull out those fresh lime juices but also the oils from the skin of the fruit. Next, you will add ice and Rum, and stir to incorporate the rum with the muddled lime. While stirring, top with cold Coke from the glass bottle that is sourced from Mexico (this isn’t just to be fancy; we use Mexican Coke because it uses real cane sugar instead of the artificial sweetener that is present in the Coke made in the states). When making cocktails the cane sugar pairs well with the Molasses and Evaporated Cane Juice that is present in our Coppercraft Rum. Once your glass it topped off, add some bitters. We use our House Bitters, which have a strong Cinnamon and Cherry note, pulling out the earthy flavors of bark and molasses from the Coke. This is a Cuba Libre.

I used the flavor profiles from the Cuba Libre to inspire flavors for this new cocktail: A Possible Dream. I start with a Pipe Tobacco Tincture (tobacco steeped in high proof spirit). My tincture uses the American Blend of tobacco that I got from our local Smoke Shop, and it has a really nice aroma.  I will spritz this onto a glass, not adding volume to my cocktail, but a slight taste and heavy aroma that will influence how you experience everything else. Then, I take a bit of Cherry Syrup that I made with thawed cherries that I'd saved from the Farmer’s Market. Next, I add a bit of Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup, to get a nice heavy bark flavor that pairs well with the pipe tobacco as well as lends that lime flavor that is so important to the Cuba Libre. I stir this cocktail, strain it into the coupe glass with the Pipe Tobacco Tincture in it. Then, top it off with Mexican Coke. The last step is to take the peel of a lime, and extract the oils into the cocktail, and garnish with a cocktail cherry. This is what we do with Rum and Coke at Coppercraft.

A Possible Dream

  • 1 ½ oz Rum
  • 1 Barspoon Cherry Syrup
  • 1 Barspoon Jack Rudy Tonic
  • Mist of Tobacco Tincture
  • Coke

 Take a chilled coupe glass and mist with tobacco tincture. Set aside. Add rum, cherry syrup and Jack Rudy into a mixing pitcher and stir well. Strain into a coupe glass and top with coke. Garnish with lime peel and cherry on a cocktail sword.

Cuba Libre

  • 2 ounces Coppercraft Rum
  •  1/4-1/2 lime, to your taste
  • Mexican Coke
  • Aromatic Bitters

Add lime wedges to rocks glass. Muddle lime. Add Rum, ice and stir. Slowly stir in Coke and top with bitters.