Bar Trivia Time!

Cuba Libre

The Cuba Libre (aka Rum and Coke) originated during the Spanish American War in 1898, in which the US allied with Cuba to fight for its independence against Spain. 

(Bonus trivia, Coca-Cola has been around since 1892)
One day in a Havana bar, an American captain ordered a rum and Coca-Cola on ice, with a wedge of lime.  As other soldiers in the bar tried it, the Captain made a toast “Por Cuba Libre” (“For Cuba’s Freedom”) and the Cuba Libre was born.


In 1896, Jennings Cox, an American engineer, who was in Cuba mining iron, ran out of gin.  He was expecting guests from the States so he began experimenting with local ingredients until he had a drink he deemed worthy: rum with fresh lime juice and sugar, chilled.  When his guests arrived the drink was a hit. He named it after the little beach town where his iron mine was located: Daiquiri.

The daiquiri owes it’s fame, however,  to another man.  In 1909, the USS Minnesota was touring the now decade-old battlegrounds of the Spanish American War.  Captain Charles H. Harlow went ashore at Guantanamo with medical officer Lucius Johnson in tow. The duo soon met up with none other than Jennings Cox, who was more than happy to share his creation with them. Johnson was instantly smitten with the drink.

Returning to the United States with a stash of Cuban rum and Jenning’s recipe, Johnson soon instructed the bar staff at Washington D.C.’s Army and Navy Club on how to make his new favorite cocktail. The Daiquiri was such a hit that the bar was re-named the Daiquiri Lounge.

The drink reached it’s ultimate popularity during Prohibition when Americans flew to Cuba for the restriction-free nightlife with regularity.  It’s said to have been Ernest Hemingway’s favorite cocktail.


The mojito was originally called the Draque.  Named after Sir Francis Drake, the British explorer/pirate who sailed around the world in the late 1500s, as he or a shipmate is said to have made the drink for medicinal purposes. 

Originally it was made with aguardiente, a harsh cane-juice liquor.  Later, rum replaced the aguardiente and the cocktail was renamed the Mojito, likely after the garlic and citrus seafood marinade, mojo, which pairs well with it.  Though it’s possible it also got its name from the African word “mojo” translated as “spell,” but more likely the marinade.

By the time of Prohibition, the drink was a fixture at Cuban beaches and clubs and became another favorite of Hemingway.