In the modern history of bars and cocktails in New York City, Audrey Saunders is a legend. Best known for the Pegu Club in Soho (which closed abruptly due to the COVID-19 pandemic), Audrey has mentored a generation of bartenders, and is at least partially responsible for the cocktail renaissance that we saw over the past 20 years.
The Old Cuban is just one of Audrey's original drinks that has been added to the lexicon of modern bar staples. Like many of her cocktails, it's inspired by a classic—the mojito—with a few key tweaks that let it stand on its own. In place of the traditional white rum of a mojito, dark rum is called for here. Aromatic bitters are added, and the soda water is replaced with champagne.
This cocktail translates better to non-alcoholic form than just about anything we've tried. The resulting drink is bright, minty, and refreshing like a mojito, but carries the dark intensity of rum and the flavor boost from sparkling wine. Eat your heart out, mojito!
Old Cuban (Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Recipe)
Non-Alcoholic Cocktail / Low-Alcohol / Zero Proof / Mocktail
6 mint leaves
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 ounces Lyre's Dark Cane Spirit
4 full droppers All The Bitter Aromatic bitters
2 ounces non-alcoholic sparkling wine
In the bottom of a shaker tin, gently muddle mint leaves along with the simple syrup and lime juice.
Add rum, bitters, and ice and shake until well chilled.
Strain into a coupe glass and top with sparkling wine.
Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN
We love this with Lyre's Dark Cane Spirit and their conveniently canned Classico sparkling wine, but you could substitute any non-alcoholic dark rum or sparkling wine. Ritual Rum is another great choice, and Noughty is one of our absolute favorite sparkling wines for any occasion.
MAKE IT LOW ALCOHOL
Keep everything else the same and pour 2 ounces of regular, alcoholic Champagne or sparkling wine here instead for a cocktail that'll tickle your fancy without too much buzz.