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Cuba's best cocktails

Cuba is famous for Cadillacs, Caribbean sea views and, perhaps most of all, cocktails.

While the namesake Cuba Libre really put the Latin island's rum on the international stage, the truth is that there are a whole host of cocktails in this country for you to try, all to be enjoyed responsibly of course.

We've put the best of the bunch here ahead of your trip – expect classic cocktails and a few eclectic new drinks to tantalise your tastebuds.

The Cuba Libre

It'd be remiss to begin a rundown of Cuban cocktails without naming the glorious Cuba Libre numero uno.

It's so ubiquitous that many of us drink it when we go out and never realise it, knowing it solely as a rum and coke. There's little than can compete with cola, rum and a twist of lime for a refreshing and simple drink, although it stands to reason that in Cuba, the Cube Libre is done with more style and sass.

The Cuba Libre is said to have been invented and popularised across the Americas in the 1900s onwards, making it prolific throughout the 20th century. As cocktails go it's cheap and easy to make, which likely contributed much to its success.

Nowadays, Cuba's fellow Latin American nations have their own variants of this cocktail classic. For example, in Peru their variant is made with pisco instead of rum, while in Venezuela they add a dash of gin and bitter to taste.

The Daiquiri

Cubans take pride in telling visitors how Ernest Hemingway adored their capital, Havana, and its penchant for perfect rum daiquiris. Indeed, for pure zest and zing, few cocktails can beat that lovely fusion of white rum, syrup and lime juice.

Yet what lots of people enjoying this fine cocktail might not know is that the daiquiri as we know it today is different to how the cocktail originally came to be. They say that the original version added Maraschino liqueur to the mix, and even in the average Havana street you'll find a host of bars who each have their own twist on the tipple.

For those on the lookout for trendy hotspots, we suggest you head to one of Hemmingway's favourite haunts, Floridita. Famed for tasty strawberry daiquiris, you'll find the fancy bar situated in Old Town Havana.

The Mojito

That crisp minty freshness hits like a breath of fresh air on a hot Cuban day.

It has much the same ingredients as a daiquiri, albeit in different amounts, and the zest of the mint creates a distinctive flavour that carries the white rum to perfection every time. In Cuba, preparation of a mojito is as traditional as it gets, with full sprigs of mint leaves immersed in the tasty cocktail.

The true history of the mojito is shrouded in myth. While Cuba proudly proclaims itself the birthplace of the beverage, it's said that its real origins go back as far as pre-colonial times.

Indeed, Sir Francis Drake was said to partake of a similar drink to the mojito in the 1500s gifted to him by Cuba's native tribes. Not just a pleasurable pursuit though, the famous English explorer was also making use of the mint and lime to combat scurvy at sea.

The Crema de Vie

Loosely translating as the Cream of Life, this is a lesser known Cuban cocktail, yet one you're definitely encouraged to try. It's similar to eggnog but with a distinctive Cuban twist, often in the form of anise or cinnamon for flavour.

The drink mixes egg yolks, condensed milk and sugar to superb effect with, you guessed it, yet more of the superb white rum we adore Cuba so much for.

What results is a milkshake-smooth concoction that tastes superb while offering a hearty dash of tipsy giggling. While we can't promise it'll extend your lifespan as the name implies, it'll surely make plenty of happy Cuban memories.

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