The colour is the first thing you’ll notice – it’s not called gold for the fun of it after all!
Ok so I covered the basic white rums. There were a few brands (and countries) covered but now we move onto my favourite type of rum: Gold Rum.
This section should allow you to expand your rum styles, and your geography knowledge, a little further. With Gold rums from Venezuela to Cuba and across the entire Caribbean; there is sure to be a choice for everyone…
Diplomatico Anejo (Venezuela) £22.84 – The Drink Shop
This smooth-sipping golden rum is blended from a combination of continuous still rums and potstill rums. Although blended, the average age of the finished product is 4 years old. Diplomatico is a very strong brand from Venezuela and can hold its own in almost any rum-sipping competition (its various products have won various awards over the years) and yet it blends into tiki cocktails remarkably well.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: If you’re looking for a well-balanced, blended gold rum and want to try something other than Caribbean rum then I strongly suggest giving this brand, including this particular rum, a go!
Ron de Jeremy – Reserve Adult Rum! (Panama) £33.32 The Drink Shop
Ron de Jeremy is an extremely well-balanced 7 year old rum and is quite literally distilled by a living legend: Cuban Master Distiller Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ Fernandez. Don Pancho is 72 years old and is considered one of the most experienced and renowned master distillers in the rum industry.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: This rum is fantastic to sip, and will reward those with a well-developed palate. However it has been created in such a way that it will also mix well with other ingredients, especially when mixing cocktails.
Mount Gay – Eclipse (Barbados) £19.70 The Drink Shop
Another long standing favourite of mine, this reasonably price rum is one of the sleeper hits of the last few decades. Whilst all of the top-end rums clean up at awards ceremonies, this rather unassuming bottle sits itself on the supermarket shelf and literally sells by the bucket.
Those who have been to Barbados and visited the distillery will know its history well and even those not interested in rum will have heard of it whilst on the island.
Hand-crafted since 1703, Mount Gay Rum is made using the finest Barbados sugar cane and pure spring water. This leaves you with a rum that can be sipped neat and yet is equally, if not more so, at home combined with your favourite mixer…
Fervent Shaker insider tip: this rum is reasonably priced and found in most of the bigger supermarkets in the UK. Failing that you can find it easily in online alcohol shops.
Flor De Cana – 4YO Gold (Nicaragua) £22.68 The Drink Shop
Flor de Cana 4YO Golden Rum is a little something different. From central/south America this rum is well-balanced and perfect for combining with mixers and works brilliantly in light cocktails.
Palate notes: “A soft entry leads to a round, dry medium-bodiea palate with caramel, sugar cane and peppery spice flavours. Finishes with a dash of toasted coconut shavings and pepper. Very clean and pure.” – Flor De Cana.com
Appleton Estate Special (Jamaica) £14.00 – Sainsbury’s
The price tag on this rum may make you cringe and think ‘bargain basement’ but the idea here is to give you a cheaper option whilst making sure you get your money’s worth. Appleton Estate special Jamaica Rum is only £14 yes, but it’s an absolute bargain in regards to its taste and overall finish. It’s not as sophisticated as some of the other rums on this list, but its sheer versatility means it can be used in a range of tiki (and non-tiki) cocktails. And for that reason alone it makes the list…
“The Cuba Libre requires Bacardi rum and Coca Colatm with ice and a wedge of fresh lime. Why? Because that’s how an original Cuba Libre has always been made – at least since 1900, when American soldiers on Neptuno Street, Havana, first persuaded a barman to mix his precious Bacardi rum with their tasty new beverage called Coca Cola” – Bacardi’s description of the Cuba Libre on their website. (http://www.bacardi.com/uk/Cocktails/BACARDI-Cuba-Libre)
The Cuba Libre has all the mysterious history you need from a classic cocktail and then some. Now I’m not saying it’s because of this that it’s actually considered a ‘classic cocktail’ but you have to admit the uncanny similarities to some of the other classics (Mojito, Martini, Margarita etc…).
The one thing that the Cuba Libre has in its favour though is its base spirit: Rum. Rum, as any well-to-do person will tell you, has a mysterious history all to its own. It just so happens that the Caribbean (that’s the collection of islands that includes Cuba would you know) is arguably the best place for premium quality rums anywhere in the world. Whether it’s the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Trinidad or even the ‘Rum King’ Island known as Barbados, the rum used in Cuba Libre’s has traditionally been of the best quality full stop (little wonder it’s become a classic then eh?).
So traditionally it was made using Coca Cola, a Premium quality CubanAnejoRum and a wedge of Lime to freshen the drink up a little. However recently (mainly due to the lack of any Cuban rum in my repertoire) I have been trying out different brands and styles of rum both to find my favourite, and also because it is a simple recipe to stick to and easy to tweak without destroying the original idea…
Of course there are many variations, more variations than the time I have to write them down for you, and some include different types/brands of rum. From the classic white(light) rums to the semi-aged golden and Aged ‘Dark’ rums of the Caribbean and even the spiced rums (Captain Morgan’s, Kraken etc.) which have become more and more popular over recent years here in the UK…
The last time I got paid (just after Christmas) I went out and stocked up on some quality rums that my local Sainsbury’s had on offer at the time (and I also got a bottle of Makers Mark, but that’s a story for another time)… The Rums purchased/received as presents were;
– Brugal Ron Anejo Rum £20-25 (I got it on offer for £16.99)
A Golden (semi-aged/aged) rum from the Dominican Republic; considered to be of a very high quality.
– Kraken Black Spiced Rum £18-23 (depending on store)
Imported from the USA, Kraken comes in a glorious pirate themed bottle and denotes a giant squid (hence the ‘Kraken’) on the label. It’s a high quality black spiced rum and it tastes magical, which is probably why it has gathered quite the cult following. This was a very well received present from my sister for Christmas.
– Bacardi Oakheart £18-19 (£12 – offer price when I got it)
My soul reason for buying this bottle of rum was the price. It was a mere £12 at the time (worked out around £10.80 after my discount) and I just could not pass that up (considering its usual RRP is around £18-19!!!)…
Also I was a little wary because whilst Bacardi is a quality product, I feared they had created something that might not work (needless to say I was very, very wrong!).
Anyway, back to the recipes;
So I tried a Cuba Libre using a 2-1 (Rum-Lime) ratio and topped up with a cola (Pepsi as it’s my favourite but feel free to change that to your favourite). Needless to say you do get 3 very different tasting drinks.
The Brugal Anejo Cuba Libre is as close as a Classic Cuba Libre these recipes got, purely in the way of geographical accuracy (Dominican Rep. is as close to the Havana Club style Anejo I have) and I imagine it’s similar in tastes to a classic Cuba Libre too. Whilst not the best when mixed with Pepsi, if you use Coca Cola like the classic recipe requests, it becomes sublime. And as a classic Cuba Libre (if you don’t have any Cuban rum) then this is the recipe I suggest you use!
The Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libre was a standout favourite among my friends and family, with its smooth taste blending with the lime and Pepsi better (in their opinion anyway) than the Brugal Ron Anejo. The Bacardi was obviously made for cocktail mixing; such is the way with their other rum products.
The Kraken Black Spiced Cuba Libre, after a few tries, was my personal standout recipe. Purely for the thick, almost syrupy taste it brings to the drink. The Lime juice, when freshly squeezed, cuts through the nasty aftertaste of the alcohol (that horrible kick you get that can spoil a drink) allowing you to pile in 2 measures without thought, and the Pepsi brought out the Spiced notes perfectly and made sure they were there in the background, but not too overpowering.
In my opinion the Kraken Rum brought something extra to the Pepsi recipes that the others simply did not have: a thick almost syrupy, spice texture that when cut with the fresh lime juice created this sensation of pure bliss; that something a little bit special.
Now don’t mistake my gushing for naivety. I know that the classic Cuban rum recipe will always be the classic Cuba Libre, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but what I am saying is that If you want something a little special and a bit of a taste-treat in the disguise of a Cuba Libre; then Kraken Black Spiced Rum is your poison of choice. Trust me you will not regret it.
– Always use freshly squeezed lime juice. Lime cordial is never a replacement at the best of times, and especially not here. It is too sweet and doesn’t help balance out the rum. Don’t expect the taste to be that good if you do use it. Having said that, if you have no choice try to use a little less rum so you don’t overpower the drink.
– These rums were used purely because they were accessible at the time I tried them. So whilst I am raving about the Kraken Rum here, it is very likely you will disagree. Please don’t hate me for ignoring your favourite rum; that is not the intention. It was simply MY favourite of the 3!
Brugal Ron Anejo Cuba Libre (Coke)
2 measures Brugal Ron Anejo Rum
1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice*
Top up Coca Cola
Brugal Ron Anejo Cuba Libre (Pepsi)
2 measures Brugal Ron Anejo Rum
1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice
Top up Pepsi
Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libre
2 measures Bacardi Oakheart
1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice*
Top up Pepsi
Kraken Black Spiced Cuba Libre
2 measures Kraken Black Spiced Rum
1 measure freshly squeezed lime Juice*
Top up Pepsi
*this is equivalent to around 1 small lime being around 25ml
Now as a slight addition to this post, one I did not intend I might add, will be in relation to the fact that whilst in the process of writing this post; I was again paid.
This payday I invested in a rather well-known brand of Cuban Rum, mainly to test out the theory of ‘Cuban rum for a Cuba Libre is better’ and also because I love it. That’s right ladies and gents; Havana Club 3yo white rum.
Now normally I would keep this sort of information to myself, but seeing as it was mainly to try a proper Cuba Libre Recipe out, I thought it best to add. The recipe I used was a 2:1 ratio (the same as the above recipes) only I added the lime juice to the glass first (following Havana Club guidelines).
And can I just say, from the above recipes, Brugal & Coca Cola was my favourite (not including the Kraken & Pepsi recipe), but this Havana Libre I made up, was on another level… It is very strange, but the flavour of the Havana Club comes through the cola perfectly, so you taste the rums flavour, but without the painful bite of the alcohol (thank the lime juice for that).
So I suppose to summarise I just have to leave you with this bit of advice: Cocktail recipes can be fluid. You make them to your own tastes. And sometimes you may want a spiced rum, sometimes you want a white. But if you ever have a Cuba Libre, try it first with the Havana Club 3yo, create a Cuba Libre the way it was intended and then, if you want to, experiment with other rums. You’ll find that this classic recipe is just that: a classic. You may find you prefer a spiced version, or even the taste of black rum. But no matter what you try you cannot beat the Cuban Anejo rum recipe. It’s just one of those things… Like gravity or the short life of a turkey; it’s inevitable.