Accounts of the invention of the Cuba Libre vary.
According to Bacardi:
The world’s second most popular drink was born in a collision between the United States andSpain. It happened during the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century when Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and Americans in large numbers arrived in Cuba. One afternoon, a group of off-duty soldiers from the U.S. Signal Corps were gathered in a bar in Old Havana. Fausto Rodriguez, a young messenger, later recalled that Captain Russell came in and ordered Bacardi (Gold) rum and Coca-Cola on ice with a wedge of lime. The captain drank the concoction with such pleasure that it sparked the interest of the soldiers around him. They had the bartender prepare a round of the captain’s drink for them. The Bacardi rum and Coke was an instant hit. As it does to this day, the drink united the crowd in a spirit of fun and good fellowship. When they ordered another round, one soldier suggested that they toast ¡Por Cuba Libre! in celebration of the newly freed Cuba. The captain raised his glass and sang out the battle cry that had inspired Cuba’s victorious soldiers in the War of Independence.
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 1900 by a member of the U.S. Signal Corps, referred to as “John Doe”.
According to Havana Club
Along with the Mojito and the Daiquiri, the Cuba Libre shares the mystery of its exact origin. The only certainty is that this cocktail was first sipped in Cuba. The year? 1900. 1900 is generally said to be the year that cola first came to Cuba, introduced to the island by American troops. But “Cuba Libre!” was the battle cry of the Cuba Liberation Army during the war of independence that ended in 1898.
1½ oz dark or white rum
Juice of half a lime
Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the ingredients. Stir and garnish with lime wedge.