One of the best parts about travel is testing out the gastronomic culture. Eating pan seared duck at Comptoir De La Gastronomie in Paris, horse sashimi in back alleys of Tokyo or terrible borscht on the streets of St. Petersburg is a great way to get in touch with a culture and society by way of your stomach instead of normal visual saturation.
Similarly drinking the popular destination beverage can bring the same experience. Caparinhia’s, a sweet lime cocktail are very popular in Brazil and can be made at home by tracking down some cashaca. Thousands of varieties of sake are available in Japan and many can be found at your local liquor store.
What’s most fun about being out of the country, however, is enjoying the forbidden beverages — those that can’t even be consumed in the United States.
Which brings us to the Cuba Libre with Havana Club rum. Though the Cuba Libre is quite similar to a standard “rum and coke” and can be made with any rum, the real flavor and purpose of the beverage is best brought out when consumed with Havana Club, a Cuban rum illegal to import into the States. Downing a Cuba Libre gives you that touch of rebellion and that flavor of foreign places that few other drinks can, which is why I often order it when I’m out of the country.
Next time you’re outside of our borders, give it a try. Both Canadian and Mexican bars are usually stocked with Havana Club rum and you’ll definitely taste a difference between that and Americanized liquors. Maybe someday (soon?) when the trade embargo falls we’ll be able to enjoy a little bit of Cuba Libre at home.