On the Sauce: Old Cuban

A sophisticated cocktail with aged rum (and champagne) that's not to be missed.

click to enlarge On the Sauce: Old Cuban
Chris Fasick

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to try a drink I'd never heard of.

Its name? The Old Cuban.

Right away, the cocktail grabbed my attention. I was reminded of the old Cuban man at the 40th Street Sandwich Shop, where I ate lunch day after day after discovering the magical creation known as the "Cuban." Retired now, the man found joy in giving a hearty yell as he repeated himself to the newbie who couldn’t make out his strong accent, all the while giving me a smile, and chuckle, from the side.

From cigars to sandwiches, I love Tampa's Cuban history; it's what gives us our community flavor. Needless to say, I had to try this cocktail. Could the drink live up to its name? The answer is a resounding yes.

Picture a mojito. We’ve all had one, and to me, it’s the best way silver rum can be presented. Now picture an elevated version — compliments of a deliciously aged dark rum — by way of the Champagne.

For our recipe, I used Afrohead Rum, imported from Trinidad by Bahamas-based Harbour Island Rum Company. Its notes of oak, vanilla, honey and molasses work well with this week's cocktail, but also on the rocks with a splash of simple syrup and bitters. Those who can't find Afrohead should go with another aged rum in the $25 to $35 range. Sea Salt showcases another really good one that I highly recommend, called Clément, in the Rhum Noir I featured.

The Old Cuban

Makes 1

1 ounce of simple syrup

Juice of half of a lime

3 dashes of bitters

3-5 fresh mint leaves

1.5 ounces aged dark rum

1.5-2 ounces of Champagne

In a cocktail shaker, add simple syrup, lime juice, bitters and mint. Muddle until mint is bruised. Fill shaker halfway with ice, then add rum. Shake until chilled. Strain cocktail into a coupe glass, top with champagne and garnish with a mint spring.

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