Legend has it that the canchánchara cocktail was first mixed by Mambíses, Cuban guerrillas fighting for independence from Spain, as a way to ward of disease in the jungles of eastern Cuba. Others insist that African slaves created this tonic in secret (with ingredients they had easy access to) to avoid the flu. The colonial city of Trinidad takes credit for the drink, even dedicating a bar to it: the “Taberna de la Canchánchara.” 

No matter its origins, one thing’s for certain: The canchánchara has potent healing powers. Last year, on a road trip through Cuba (my husband is Cuban), everyone in my family came down with a nasty cold. The nightly balm for our sore throats and aching heads? A canchánchara. 

To make your own, you need the following:

2 ounces of aguardiente Santero (Havana Club’s añejo rum is a nice, smoky alternative)

2 tablespoons of honey

2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lime juice

Mix well and enjoy! To do as they do in Trinidad, serve in a jícara with a couple of ice cubes. To fight off an impending cold, add hot water instead of ice. 


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