Rum, mint, and lime juice are a great combination, as we all know from the Mojito Cocktail. When mixing these three ingredients, the result is sour, herbal, and very refreshing.
Audrey Saunders, one of New York's bartending legends, took this all-time favorite and has turned it into the Old Cuban while respecting its Caribbean roots.
Quick Facts Old Cuban Cocktail
- Method: shaken
- Flavor profile: well-balanced, slightly dry and sour
- How to serve it: straight up
- Glassware: coupe glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 15.5% ABV, 17.2 grams of alcohol per serving
The Old Cuban is more sophisticated than the Mojito, which does not only show in the ingredients but also in preparation and presentation.
- 1.5 oz Aged Rum
- 0.5 oz Simple syrup
- 0.75 oz Freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 oz Champagne
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 6 Mint leaves
- 1 Mint sprig or leaf
- Add mint leaves, syrup, and freshly squeezed lime juice to your cocktail shaker and gently muddle the leaves.0.5 oz Simple syrup, 0.75 oz Freshly squeezed lime juice, 6 Mint leaves
- Pour Rum and bitters into the shaker, add ice and shake until well-chilled.1.5 oz Aged Rum, 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Double-strain your drink into a chilled coupe glass.
- Top up the cocktail with the Champagne and garnish with a sprig of mint or a single mint leaf.1 oz Champagne, 1 Mint sprig or leaf
Ingredients & Recommendations
Taking a closer look, you will notice more differences than just replacing the soda water: -Where the original asks for crisp and fresh white rum, the recipe for the Old Cuban Drink calls for aged dark rum instead:
- Dark Rum: Aged Rum is smoother and richer in taste and has a more complex and mellow flavor profile.
- Fresh Mint
- Fresh Lime Juice: squeeze it from fresh fruit for the best results. Don't go with bottled lime juice from the supermarket as that will ruin your drink.
- Simple Syrup: homemade or store-bought, both work just fine.
- Champagne: If you want to replace it with more affordable sparkling wine, that's perfectly fine. Make sure to grab one with high carbonation and low sugar content (extra dry or brut).
- Angostura Bitters: To further enhance the complexity of flavors, add two dashes of Angostura bitters - the bestselling cocktail bitters on the market. Just a drop or two can highly influence and deepen the flavor profile of your drink.
Best Practices for Mixing the Drink
There are some things you should consider when making this rum cocktail. One is that it gets double strained to ensure all large mint leaf pieces get filtered out.
Another vital factor for a perfect Old Cuban is that the glass should be chilled in the freezer or with the help of some ice cubes because the cocktail is served without ice.
Also, don't use too much force when muddling the mint because it will release a bitter aroma when you overdo it. You can read more on that in an article Emma Jensen wrote for imbibe.
Our fourth and final tip is to use a sparking wine with high carbonation. You use only 1 oz and don't want your drink to be sparkly and not fall flat.
The story behind the Old Cuban Cocktail
Audrey Saunders invented the Old Cuban recipe. She is a famous bartender who worked in many places in New York.
During her time at Pegu Club in Soho, she even trained and mentored a respectable number of other talented barkeepers. Many of them are now among the top bartenders in the country.
But not only did Audrey leave footmarks as a mentor and trainer. She also created some unique and beautiful cocktails that are served all over the world.
Many of her drinks are based on classic recipes and flavor combinations. She truly mastered the art of reinventing classics by tweaking them in her own unique way. The results often are no simple riffs.
One of those drinks is the Old Cuban cocktail. Saunders invented the drink in 2001 while working for a restaurant called Beacon. So this took place even before the Renaissance of mixology and the craft cocktail movement started.
Other refreshing drinks with a minty kick you can try are: