Famed for its sultry rhythms, vintage cars, and rich cultural tapestry, Cuba also boasts a delightful range of beverages that speak of its tropical allure and colonial history. Here’s a dive into the top five non-alcoholic cocktails that every visitor should savor while taking in the sights and sounds of this Caribbean gem.
Malta: A beloved drink among Cubans of all ages, Malta is a sweet, non-alcoholic malt beverage. Its deep brown color and unique taste, somewhat similar to a non-alcoholic beer with hints of molasses, make it distinctive. Often enjoyed cold, Malta can also be mixed with condensed or evaporated milk, transforming it into “Malta con Leche,” a creamy treat.
Jugos Naturales (Natural Juices): Given Cuba’s tropical climate, it’s no surprise that fresh fruit juices are ubiquitous. From the tangy “jugo de piña” (pineapple juice) to the sweet “jugo de mango” (mango juice), these naturally refreshing drinks are a staple. Another favorite is “jugo de guayaba” (guava juice), which offers a perfect blend of sweetness and tartness.
Coco Glacé: Step onto any Cuban beach, and you’re likely to find vendors selling Coco Glacé. It’s essentially a coconut water slushie, made by blending the clear juice of green coconuts with its tender meat. Served icy cold, often straight from the coconut shell, this drink is both hydrating and utterly delightful on a hot Caribbean day.
Café Cubano: While technically not a cocktail, no list about Cuban beverages is complete without mentioning its iconic coffee. Café Cubano is an espresso shot sweetened with demerara sugar as it’s being brewed. It’s strong, sweet, and carries the essence of Cuban hospitality. For a milder version, “Café con Leche” – a mix of Café Cubano with warm milk – is a breakfast favorite.
Refresco de Cebada: This is a traditional Cuban barley soft drink. It’s made by boiling barley with sugar until it attains a thick, syrupy consistency. When cooled, it’s diluted with water and served over ice. The result? A sweet, refreshing beverage with a hint of earthiness from the barley.
Cuba’s non-alcoholic beverages are a delightful mix of its bountiful natural resources and time-honored traditions. Each drink, whether it’s the maltiness of Malta or the tropical burst of a fresh fruit juice, tells a story of the island’s vibrant culture and rich history. When in Cuba, make sure to take a moment, sip on these local concoctions, and let the flavors dance on your palate, much like the rhythms of a Cuban rumba.