Ah the much maligned rioja libre or Cuba libre del pobre. The first time I heard about it I had no interest. None. Zero! Red wine with coke? Ugh. No way. Finally on trip a friend got me to try it. Hey, I get it. Never going to be my favorite, but just like certain beers fit certain locations or occasions so does this. Wines, cocktails and many other drinks seem more fitting at times. For me, this drink fits great in a couple of slots( besides travelling in South America or Spain). While preparing food with a Latin flair is one. It just seems fitting and works for me. The other is when it’s the end of the week and you put on some nice Cuban jazz and contemplate the week. Perfect. Especially with the twist I like to toss on this drink, which we will get to in a moment.
Drinks often go along with memories of a time or place that is special. As much as taste for some people, it’s the memory that comes with the taste. This drink has a varied history. If you look it up you will find all kinds of names for it and supposed origins. Take a moment and look this one up. There are some great stories out there about it.
The classic rioja libre is equal parts COLA and red wine over ice. It’s good but a bit sweet for me. Occasionally I make it with diet coke and that’s better for my own taste. My favorite though is adding one shot of sliced rum. It only changes the favor a bit, gives a bit more complexity. Plus it’s a single shot. The keeps the drink cheap which was it intent (that’s what the del pobre part means lol).
So here’s how to mix this complicated cocktail lol. In this case I used a very inexpensive Lucky Duck Cabernet. My wife loves it. We go through all kinds of wine, but she like her inexpensive ones. Just her thing to have around. I’m more of a beer and bourbon guy but I do drink it and cook with it. Honestly it’s good. I’m fortunate to travel and drink great wines and spirits all over the world and I’ll stand by its pretty good!
Take your cocktail glass and put ice in first. Fill about 40% with COLA. Add red wine on top taking it to about 80% full. Toss your rum shot in and another splash of COLA. Boom. It’s an inexpensive happy hour. Enjoy!
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