One of the few modern cocktails to make a lasting impression, the Old Cuban is a refreshing blend of citrus, mint, and aged rum. It’s a darker version of a Mojito with a touch of extra sparkle. Once you learn how to make an Old Cuban, you’ll fall in love with the simple taste of this new classic.
History of the Drink
Contrary to its name, the Old Cuban is a relatively new drink and is not from Cuba. The cocktail has only been around since 2001 and hails from New York City. It was invented by bartender Audrey Saunders for her bar, the Pegu Club, and has delighted cocktail drinkers ever since.
Unlike many twenty-first-century drink inventions, this cocktail became an instant classic and is now routinely included in cocktail recipe books. The ingredients are things that any bartender would already have on hand, and the drink is easy to make and drink.
The Old Cuban tastes like a marriage between a Mojito and a French 75. It takes the fresh citrus and mint of a Mojito, switches up the white rum for aged rum, and brings in the sweetness of champagne traditionally associated with a French 75. This combination makes for a surprising amount of sweetness to accompany the more robust flavors of mint and rum.
How to Make an Old Cuban
An Old Cuban follows an unspoken rule of many classic cocktails–it has a delicious and complicated flavor but is surprisingly simple to make. It needs only a few easy-to-find ingredients, making the drink a favorite of home bartenders. Here’s how to make an Old Cuban at home:
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 6-8 mint leaves
- 1 ½ ounces aged rum
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- 2 ounces champagne or sparkling wine
- Lime wedge or mint sprig for garnish
- Mix simple syrup and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the mint leaves gently with a wooden spoon or muddler (bruise the leaves, so the flavor seeps out).
- Add rum and bitters, then fill the rest of the shaker with ice.
- Shake until the mixture is thoroughly chilled.
- Pour through a double strainer (to avoid bits of mint leaves) into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Top with champagne and garnish.
- If you don’t have simple syrup, you can make your own by boiling water and adding an equal amount of sugar. Shake the mixture (with proper protection against the hot water) until it’s combined and the sugar dissolves. You can store homemade simple syrup in a closed container for up to a week.
- Although a coupe glass is the perfect cocktail glass for the Old Cuban, martini glasses work just as well!
- If the mixture is too sweet, you can cut back on simple syrup or replace your champagne with a dryer sparkling wine.
You can serve an Old Cuban with brunch, lunch, or dinner. It’s a fresh, sparkling cocktail with hints of mint, lime, and dark rum to give it depth. For a new twist on several classics–and creating a new favorite–look no further than the Old Cuban!