5 rum-refreshing Cuban cocktails creeping into the UK that aren't Mojitos

The UK’s favourite cocktail is the Mojito! Upon first glance, it might not make sense for a couple of reasons:
- the Caribbean weather which makes the drink so refreshing in hot climes has very little resemblance to the damp rain of the British Isles
- the UK’s most popular spirit by volume of sales is vodka, not the rum needed to make a Mojito

But we pasty hunters of good drink in the UK seem just as inclined as the sun-touched Cubanos to relax with the rum-sugar-lime-mint mixture. With cocktail sales continually on the rise - up 10% in the past two years - a more adventurous tasting public, and the Cuban economy arguably about to change for the better due to the US easing of the embargo placed on the island over fifty years ago, perhaps there are room for some other Cuban cocktails on the bar lists of pubs and restaurants round the UK. Here are a few that might start to show their fabulous faces, all based on one of the three types of rum that permeate the island: white, gold and dark.

Culto a la vida

The literal translation of this drink is “Cult of Life”, and the Cubans sure do know how to live on their sunny island. The recipe is trademarked by the world-famous rum brand, Havana Club.


  • 60ml Havana Club Anejo 7 anos
  • 120ml Cranberry Juice
  • 15ml Lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  • Dissolve 1 spoon of sugar in 15 ml of lime.
  • Add ice cubes
  • Add the cranberry juice
  • Add the Havana Club Añejo 7 Años


Being a semi-tropical island, Cuba is rife with coconuts, and the African slaves of yesteryear knew how to use it - by mixing it with the rife alcoholic drink of rum! The slaves used it as a tonic. Today, it’s medical benefits have been outdone by Cuba’s world-class medical training and professionals. But it is still enjoyed as a welcome kick before you kick off your shoes to dance the mambo.


  • 2.5 oz. green coconut water
  • 1.5 oz. white rum
  • soda water


Combine all the ingredients in tall glass and stir.


If the Bloody Mary was founded in Paris at Harry’s Bar, a common hangout of American author and adventurer Ernest Hemingway, then Papa likely enjoyed a Cubanito between mojitos during his regular visits to Cuba. Many of the ingredients are similar between the two drinks. The difference being that the Cuban version uses the sugar-cane based spirit of rum vs. the grain or potato-based spirit of vodka. 


  • 1.5 oz white rum
  • 3 oz. tomato juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • pinch of celery sauce
  • hot sauce to taste
  • ice

Place all ingredients in a chilled tall glass and stir. Garnish with celery stalk, sprig of cilantro and lime wedge.

Hemingway Daiquiri - El Papa Doble

Yep, more Papa. Hemingway famously quipped, “I drink to make other people more interesting”, and he certainly threw back quite a few of these at Havana’s El Floridita cocktail bar and fish restaurant. A fresh glass of the drink, also known as the Papa Doble at the Floridita (Double Papa) in reference to the man himself and the size of the drink, would be placed in front of the writer up to six times on a regular afternoon and a dozen times when he was really looking to tie one on. 


Hemingway (center, white shirt) enjoying his cocktail namesake at El Floridita with actor Spencer Tracy just in front of him 

Hemingway (center, white shirt) enjoying his cocktail namesake at El Floridita with actor Spencer Tracy just in front of him 

  • 2 oz Havana Club anejo 3 anos
  • 3/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup 1:1
  • Garnish with a grapefruit twist

Shake all ingredients except the garnish and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Havana Cooler

The breeze off the Gulf of Mexico might cool down Havana a touch, but if the locals are really looking to cool off they may mix themselves one of these simple cocktails. 


  • 1.5 oz. white rum
  • 2 ice cubes
  • 1 sprig of mint
  • 2-3 oz. ginger ale

Combine rum, ice cubes and mint in a short (old-fashioned) glass. Top with ginger ale.

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