Put the Old Cuban at the top of your list of easy summer cocktails. Made with aged rum, mint and sparkling wine, it's the perfect thing to cool you down when the temps heat up.
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Picture this: It's summer and you can see the heat radiating off the asphalt. Between the humidity and the sweat, doing your hair is pointless. You're looking through your closet for the items of clothing that will have the least amount of contact with your skin once you're soaked with sweat after venturing out into the thick, hot air.
So what's left to do at this sweltering time of year?
When the summer heat is at its swamp-assiest, my typical, go-to drinks just don't cut it. I want cocktails with rum. I want cocktails with mint. I want something with both, so I can feel like I'm enjoying the breeze on a tropical beach somewhere, when I'm actually just sitting in the A/C trying not to sweat.
And my hands down, favorite cocktail of all the summer cocktails is the Old Cuban.
An Old Cuban cocktail is light, refreshing, and sophisticated!
- The taste is tart and tropical, with light caramel notes from the aged rum.
- Fresh mint makes it about as refreshing as you can get!
- A float of sparkling wine on top makes this a little fancy and sophisticated, and the fizz is so nice!
My New Orleans Recipe Inspiration
I found my way to the Old Cuban cocktail for the first time on a steamy day in New Orleans at Sylvain. I will forever associate this refreshing cocktail made with rum and mint with that lazy afternoon spent at their bar. We just stumbled in - and realized that they probably have the best air-conditioning in the whole city.
But aside from that, the old French Quarter architecture, with its peeling stucco walls that only add to the atmosphere, a great cocktail list, friendly bartenders, and some excellent tunes compelled us to stay for quite a while. (And to come back the next night for dinner, which was stellar.)
History of the Old Cuban cocktail
Lest you think you're making a classic, pre-Prohibition cocktail, know that the Old Cuban cocktail isn't really that old. It was created in the early 2000s by Audrey Sanders, proprietor of the Pegu Club in New York City. The 'old' in this case is talking about the rum. You want to use an aged, gold rum, not a clear, white one. (Who cares how old the recipe is, right? We just want a refreshing cocktail with rum and mint and we'll make it a classic ourselves!)
Ingredients you'll need
- Aged rum: Use a good aged, gold rum. Flor de Caña is widely available and not too expensive.
- Sparkling white wine: You don't need something pricey, but choose something you would drink if it wasn't a mixer. Prosecco works well.
- Lime juice: Makes this so summery and refreshing.
- Simple syrup: You need a little extra sweetness.
- Fresh mint leaves
- Angostura bitters
How to make an old cuban cocktail
Adapted from the original recipe by Audrey Sanders.
Step 1: Make the simple syrup
Simple syrup is very easy to make and can be used for cocktails and in baking. It's equal parts sugar and water.
Add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to let the syrup cool.
Step 2: Muddle!
Muddle the lime juice, mint and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
Step 3: Add rum and shake it up!
Add the rum, a couple of ice cubes and 2 dashes of bitters. Put the lid on the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until chilled.
Step 4: Strain and top with sparkling wine
Strain into a coupe glass or a short rocks glass. Top with 2 oz sparkling white wine. Garnish with a mint leaf and serve.
Tips for making an Old Cuban cocktail
- Muddling is simple. You are just pressing on the mint leaves so that their flavor and aroma will infuse the liquids in the cocktail. You don't have to slam and bam, just press and twist a little, several times. You'll know it's working when you smell that beautiful aroma.
- Some Old Cuban recipes will tell you to double strain, but this is really unnecessary. I'm perfectly happy with those bits of mint floating around in there. Because they're tasty.
- A coupe glass is suggested in the original recipe, but no worries if you don't have any. I quite like this cocktail served neat in a rocks glass.
You can store simple syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a month.
If you don't have a muddler, use the handle of a wooden spoon instead.
More summer cocktail recipes
Try these refreshing cocktails when the temperatures soar!
- Strawberry-Basil Prosecco Punch also has a bit of sparkling wine to keep things bubbling along.
- A Dirty Shirley will make you feel like a kid again with its fizzy red sweetness and maraschino cherries.
- A Bee's Knee's Cocktail, made with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, will satisfy any citrus lover.
Old Cuban Cocktail
Old Cuban Cocktail
- 1 ½ oz aged gold rum
- 2 oz sparkling white wine
- ¾ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 8 mint leaves
- ¾ oz simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- Add the sugar and water to a small sauce pan. Bring up to a low boil, stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Old Cuban Cocktail
- Muddle the lime juice, mint and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
- Add the rum, a couple of ice cubes and 2 dashes of bitters. Put the lid on the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass or a short rocks glass.
- Top with 2 oz sparkling white wine. Garnish with a mint leaf and serve.
- Some Old Cuban recipes will tell you to double strain, but this is really unnecessary. I’m perfectly happy with those bits of mint floating around in there. Because they’re tasty.
- If you don’t have a muddler, use the handle of a wooden spoon instead.
- The extra simple syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for about a month.