How do you make a Cuba Libre in Havana (do thay have Coke?)

Does the emargo deprive Cubans of real Coke? If so, what do they drink in a Cuba Libre? If not, how do the Coke folks get around the embargo?

I bet the government-run hotels offer it to the tourists, but they’d have to import it from a third country. They might have it, but would you have the guts/stupidity to ask for a “Cuba Libre” in Havana?

Provocatively, you could argue that we in the USA don’t have real Coca-Cola, made with cane sugar, except for a small Passover Kosher production run (look for the odd-colored caps). What does cane-sugar, original-formula “Kosher” Coke taste like? Well, it’s cleaner, sweeter and somehow less full-bodied, if one can appropriate some oenophile lingo for cola drinks. In other words, it tastes like a cross between corn-syrup Coke and Pepsi!

Now I’m half expecting a team of hitmen to be dispatched from Atlanta, GA tonight to take me out with extreme prejudice – and not to a ballgame, either.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to live near a Mexican grocery store, the imported stuff.

People belly-ache about Fructose Coke vice Cane Sugar Coke. There is a difference. A small one.

Why would anyone buy Coke in a can? Or in Plastic? That is the real problem with American Coke.

All the *taquerias *around here have it, but it’s real hard to find retail. There’s definitely a difference, and I don’t usually notice that kind of stuff!

Cubans get more than enough tourists from Canada and Europe to not be offended at the concept of the “cuba libre” drink.

Cuba is remarkably self-sufficient when it comes to stuff like this. They make their own soft drink products, the one I know from Cuba is called “tuKola” made by the same company that makes Cristal beer - Ciego Montero. They also have a drink similar to 7-up but I don’t remember the name off hand. For whiskeys and other liquers, they also make their own with their own brand names. It is possible for tourists to buy Coca-Cola, but it is at a very inflated price (I think I remember seeing 3$ US for a 1L bottle). In these cases, it is imported from a third country.

The same is true for things like cigarettes, soap, shampoo, etc. American brand names are very hard to find, but they have their own stuff and it’s all of decent quality (from what I’ve had to use, at least).

You mean the stuff that was bottled with Mexican water?

Next time I have a scavenger hunt, this is going on the list:

  1. (10 - 1000 points) Viva la revolucion! Undoctored photograph showing an American citizen drinking a Cuba Libre in Havana, Cuba. 10 points for citizen and drink in location recognizable as Havana; +90 bonus points for photos clearly taken during the Castro regime; +900 bonus points if Fidel himself is also in the photo.

Do you know if the name Cuba Libre is actually frowned upon in Cuba? The name dates to 1900, and was coined in the aftermath of the Cuban War of Independence and the Spanish-American War.

From here

Since the drink’s name commemorates the independence struggle against Spain, it could have positive connotations for Cubans of any political stripe. Pro-Castro Cubans might also take it as a reference to a Cuba free of foreign domination; while anti-Castro Cubans could take it as a reference to a Cuba free of Castro.

The song Guantanamera, whose lyrics were written by indepencence patriot Juan Martí, similarly is regarded as an anthem by both pro- and anti-Castro Cubans.

Of course the name isn’t frowned upon, why would it be? It doesn’t refer to the desires of Cuban expats in Miami, but to Cuban independance from Spain.

As has been stated, Cubans have their own brands of cola, and tourists can easily obtain Coke (along with Marboro Lights). It’s shipped in from Canada and Mexico.

And, as an aside, Havana Club rum is by far the nicest rum to use, beats the pants off Bacardi. It served as the rum of choice in most London bars, but I’m guessing most Americans haven’t sampled the delights.

I’m not familiar with that song…you don’t mean “One Ton Tomato,” do you? :wink:

No, that one was written by Juan Smartí.

(Actually, I should have said José Martí in my previous post.)

Wasn’t there a big stink about this recently? I thought that Bacardi had purchased the (American) rights to the name “Havana Club” from the original (Cuban expat) family who had produced it, before it was nationalized. So the Havana Club you drink in London is evolved from the original Havana Club, but not produced from the same recipe. This leads to a weird set of possible Cuba Libres: original recipe Coca-Cola with cane sugar poured from a glass bottle and a bottle of pre-embargo Havana Club; Coca-Cola Classic (with corn syrup) and Cuban Havana Club; and Coca-Cola Classic (with cane sugar) and the new Bacardi Havana Club.

I guess my scavenger hunt item isn’t quite as hard to come by as it might have been before.

Maybe you should just stick with the banana daiquiri.

And don’t do any fishing without saying your Hail Marys.


I don’t remember if I saw any Coca-Cola in Cuba. In my experience most bars and restaurants, even those that cater to tourists, only have tuKola and/or Tropicola. I think these brands are locally-produced. They’re not Canadian, anyway, maybe they are from Mexico.