History of the Old Cuban

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Cuban drinks have quite a cult following in the cocktail world. Stunning cocktails including the daiquiri, mojito and el presidente were made on the small Caribbean island and are all made with locally made ingredients. While many of their best beverages were created some time ago, the admiration for these drinks has not diminished and bartenders are often working on drinks that will rival the Cuban's. Few modern drinks have succeeded, but the Old Cuban is a fabulous exception. The great thing about this recent classic, is that we know all about the history because the creator is still around to tell her story.

Who Created the Old Cuban Cocktail?

At only 19 years old, the Old Cuban is actually quite young for a classic. Created in 2001, this became a signature drink at the Pegu Club in New York City. Audrey Saunders had been working on the cocktail recipe for some time before opening her bar in the Big Apple and it was originally called El Cubano. Sitting somewhere between a Mojito and a French 75, this delicious beverage plays homage to the Cuban culture with a very generous helping of two types of Cuban rum. The key to this drink is using aged rums - hence the 'Old' part of its name.

Simple to create and even easier to drink, the Old Cuban also includes champagne, sugar syrup, lime juice, bitters and mint leaves. Saunders continues to run the Pegu Club to this day and is considered to be one of the best bartenders in the world. She regularly creates new cocktail recipes, although the Old Cuban is one of her very best.

Variations of the Old Cuban

Since this is such a modern cocktail, there are few documented variations. However, there are plenty of ways to adapt the drink to your ingredients. Of course, you can substitute champagne for Prosecco or any sparkling wine. You can also double up on one of the rums if required, instead of using two different colours.

And, obviously, the Old Cuban is a variation in itself. If you want to drink something that is similar, try a Mojito or French 75, the two drinks that came together to create this alluring hybrid.

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A drink that wouldn't look out of place in a Cuban cocktail line-up, it might surprise you to know that it was actually created in America. Regardless of its origin, this is a deliciously smooth drink that is perfect for hot summers days and warm balmy nights.

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Bartender's top tip

Ice plays a crucial role in cocktails, not just for chilling but also for dilution, which can help meld flavors together smoothly. Use large, clear ice cubes or spheres for spirits-forward drinks like Old Fashioneds, as they melt slower and dilute the drink less. For more refreshing, highball-style drinks, ensure your ice is fresh and plentiful to keep the drink cold and vibrant.

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