For years the Cuba Libre has reigned supreme as the world’s most popular rum cocktail and with good reason. The simplicity of the drink makes it easy for even the most novice mixologists to prepare. While the profile is synonymous with the classic rum & coke, the Cuban Missile Crisis variation packs a bigger punch fitting of its’ notorious name. Thankfully I was able to enjoy the Cuban Missile Crisis experience without the scrutiny of customs, but make no mistake this is a weapon of mass destruction.


During the height of the Cold War, the United States spotted missiles docked in Cuba aimed directly at the United States. In retaliation, then president John F. Kennedy, ordered naval ships to baby sit our closest neighbor with nuclear weapons of our own. The tense standoff lasted 13 days. Naturally this volatile crisis had citizens of both nations walking on eggshells. Thankfully both countries came to an agreement of mutual disarmament before things turned into a nuclear conflict.

Go Big or Go Home

While I found out that the Cuban Missile Crisis was not as ubiquitous as the Cuba Libre at many of my favorite New York City watering holes, all the bartenders I talked to easily recognized the recipe. The ingredients include high proof rum, cola and lime-juice. At Havana Central, a restaurant in Yonkers, New York, I got some background on this nice little secret of a concoction. Bartender Paulo Cabrero explained why the Cuban Missile Crisis isn’t as trendy as the Cuba Libre. “Fundamentally this is the same drink but with Bacardi 151 Rum. It is a heavier drink and not as refreshing therefore the Cuba Libre is much more popular” he explained. Consider yourself warned gentlemen: adding 151 Rum to any concoction you are playing with the big boys, so tread lightly. This iteration of the drink can make you feel like a bomb has been dropped on you.

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