Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday's random waste of your precious time

The perfect Cuba Libre

San Felipe is just too warm for Scotch. Thus for drinks I rely on other classics such as Gin Tonic (on the rare instances that I can find tonic water), Screwdriver (if by luck I get oranges or 100% orange juice, something that also has disappeared from the shelves) or the Cuba Libre, if it is really hot, really sunny, and if I have real Coke (not to be taken for granted in Venezuela).

It is not to brag, but I probably do the best Cuba Libres that you will ever find. It is a matter of being strict with ingredients. I will argue on many recipes but on Cuba Libre, as well as Chavez and Castro, my mind is made and will not change no matter what.

First, there are two ingredients that are essential, upon which no compromise is possible: real Coca Cola and real Angostura bitters. If you must use diet coke, or any other variety of the stuff, do not bother and please, serve me anything else you might have, even lukewarm cheap beer. I cannot tell you the trouble it was for me when Coca Cola did its new formula, which mercifully failed. When Coke returned under the "classic" label, life became worth living again (but by then I had gained a surprising craving for single malt Scotch, but that is another story).

So there is the recipe.

Get real green limes, plump, all green around, not too big and slightly yielding on touch. Wash them delicately with your finger tips under cold running water and let them dry. Ideally you will have a lime tree in the backyard and you can pluck it just before you are about to make the drink, but this is a luxury few can have. When you can skip the washing process it sorts of add to the flavor of the drink.

Fill your glass with ice cubes and let it get really cold.

Cut your lime in half and get the other ingredients (bitters, rum, and cold Coke).

When everything is ready, pour away the water that melted in your cold glass. Then on top of it squeeze your half a lime. Then drop it in. If you were unlucky in your choice and it is a tad dry, squeeze the other half in and you may also add it if you wish. I am partial to hand squeeze, but you can use some device you might have, however you need to add the remains in full, nothing like a little wedge or anything of the sort: the pressing action releases some flavors that cannot be reproduced if you add a wedge instead of the full squeezed lime.

Add the Angostura bitters. No Cuba Libre is a Cuba Libre without the bitters. In fact the glory of a good Cuba Libre is the exact mix of bitters, sweet and acids and this can only be achieved with these ingredients. Any other ingredient and it becomes an ordinary Rum-and-coke. Some of you might be challenged in finding the exact brand: if you ever come across buy two small bottles, they last forever as you only add a few drops. I personally add two big streaks of Angostura, between 5 and 10 drops (some drops should hit the inside of the squeezed lime). But the lowest amount to be added is two drops, otherwise, yet again, you get a vulgar Rum-and-coke.

Add Rum at will. NOTE: only aged rums from Venezuela and Puerto Rico will do. You need something very dry, Bacardi Gold style. Jamaican, Trinidad, French Antilles and other rums WILL NOT DO! I mean, they are very good, but they do not work in Cuba Libre. Even contemporary Cuban rums do not work that well, and are better used in mojitos. If you do not have access to Bacardi Gold style rum, you are better off with white rum. Lately I am using real aged Venezuelan rums as they are less expensive than Scotch and much better than Cacique or El Muco. If you want to go to cheaper rums in Venezuela, I will advise Santa Teresa with the black label. El Muco used to be good but it changed a few years ago and it is only to be used when there is nothing else around.

Add your cold Coke Classic at will.

Stir and enjoy.

Note: AGAIN, I am not open to discussion: this recipe and its parameters have been tested through decades by yours truly. I am sure that your recipe is a delightful Rum-and-coke, but I can assure you it is not a real Cuba Libre, Venezuelan style. Try it before you feel like arguing, and then you will not have enough words of praise for my recipe. But remember, all is crucial, from the quality of the ingredients to the way they are mixed.

Patting my back (1)

Of course, by now you must realize that as I am finishing my second Cuba Libre of the day, any restrain in me is gone. So forgive me if I decided to pat my back some.

A few nights ago Oscar Schemmel, the Hinterlaces pollster, was on TV discussing his latest findings. I will not go into details but he said that the opposition had potential in up to 12 states but in the end might end up winning about 5. This is pretty close to my own predictions without the need to use people's interviews :)

Late this week Keller came out with his own poll. But he was a wimp and only mentioned that the opposition could caress the hope of a victory. but by not listing the states where it could he indirectly acknowledged that it was not a given. Thus again sort of confirming my predictions.

By the way you should read the Keller poll which was asked by Globovision as it has a link in its site for the results at the end of the page. Fascinating to see how Chavez has not recovered from the closing of RCTV and the food shortages. The paradox though remains: folks love Chavez but hate what he does. Go figure....

Patting my back (2)

When Ali Rodriguez Araque was named as finance minister I wrote a scathing review, implying that the only thing that mattered in that appointment is that Chavez could trust Ali R. in handling the money according to Chavez wishes and needs.

Well, today Zeta has Ali on the cover calling him Castro's man in Caracas. "Este hombre de Fidel maneja nuestro dinero" this Fidel's man is managing our money.

Remember, you read it here first.

As for the rest of my afternoon?

I will pass out in front of the Holland-Russia game, rooting for the gay loving liberal Dutch against the fascist Chavez lover Russians. (booze makes me say ugly things, does it not?)

Update: and so lost the Dutch, 3-1. And a very deserved victory for the Russian who should have won 5-0. Again, the Dutch become the darling of all, to falter like novices at the end. The Dutch are looking more and more like the Red Sox of Football, all proportions covered.

Update 2: welcome Babalu readers! I guess this post was subconsciously dedicated to you, if anything for the best thing to do at home while you wait for Cuba's freedom.


  1. Anonymous4:14 PM

    very good,but what about the dash of gin in your recipe, a prepared venezuelan cuba libre and what about the exact dose of rhum and coke-cola. thanks for the post. Mr. H.C. frías.

    1. adding gin may or may not be a good idea. but if it is a tropical drink it cannot contain a grain alcohol. just as you would not do a sugar cane based schnapps.....


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