The Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup I just made was so good that I had to follow it up with another Cuban recipe. Naturally, that sent me to my Pinterest boards where a quick search turned up this Old Cuban Cocktail recipe. It’s considered a modern classic that was created by a top New York bartender named Audrey Saunders in 2001. The popular opinion is it’s a mashup between a mojito and a French 75. That got my attention since I am a huge fan of both of those cocktails. I simply have to give this a try!
Even on a crisp, blustery autumn evening there’s always time for a rum cocktail or two at my house. The Old Cuban is an elegant, and dare I say sophisticated libation, created by Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club fame. Sweet and sour notes are celebrated in a way that rum fans knows and love. Some call it a contemporary classic, but I just call it cocktail perfection.
This cocktail has a few ingredients, and I only had two: the Angostura bitters and simple syrup. A bottle of bitters seems to last forever, and simple syrup is just that. It’s so easy to make that I make it myself and always have some in my refrigerator. This is my recipe, but you can always buy a bottle too.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar of your choice (I use organic sugar, which gives the syrup an amber tinge)
- In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the sugar. Stir until dissolved (the mixture will become clear when the sugar is dissolved).
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. The simple syrup can be refrigerated in a bottle or other airtight container for up to 4 weeks.
The limes and mint were easy to find, and I decided to buy a small bottle of prosecco to use as the sparkling wine. The rum was a little more difficult for me.
I’m not a rum expert by any means, so I didn’t know what aged rum is. I scurried over to my bar and checked what I had. for someone who isn’t that into rum, I had 3 bottles on hand—2 light (Bacardi & Largo Bay) and one dark (Myer’s).
None of them had an age on their label or the word “aged”, so I consulted the Google and found an extensive article on how rum is made and labeled (it’s a long read but worth it). Apparently, aged rum is always dark rum, but not all dark rum is aged rum. Not confusing at all…
Aged rum is just that—it’s aged in charred oak barrels (much like bourbon), and it will have the age on the label. If it’s a blended aged rum, the age on the bottle is the age of the youngest rum in the blend. I settled on a redonable prices bottle of Flor de Caña. It found it on sale for $15, but it’s regularly about $20 a bottle.
With all my ingredients and equipment gathered, the Old Cuban Cocktail took me 4 minutes to make from start to garnish.
Like a mojito, I began by muddling the mint leaves but in simple syrup instead of sugar. Mint leaves are delicate, and I have started using the smooth end of my muddler to gently bruise them. The pointed end is better for fruit and tears mint, which is not the objective of muddling.
All that was left was to strain the rum mixture into a coupe glass, top with sparkling wine, and garnish with a mint leaf. I used a Hawthorne strainer and found it let through tiny bits of mint. I liked the extra color, but a fine strainer could be used to remove them.