- The Washington Times - Monday, November 16, 2009


The Obama administration appointees running the Food and Drug Administration must have skipped college. Apparently they have never heard of rum and Coke.

It is hard to credit, but, more than 75 years after Prohibition ended, last Friday in fact, the FDA decided that the combination of caffeine and alcohol in a drink may be a horrifying threat to public health. Or, in FDA speak, the combination is not “generally recognized as safe.” As a result, the agency ordered the manufacturers of pre-mixed beverages that combine the two ingredients - increasingly popular with college kids - to prove the nefarious concoctions are safe. If manufacturers don’t provide the proof, the FDA will pull the products from stores and bars.

The irony is that even if the FDA prohibits these popular premixed drinks, the FDA can’t ban drinks with caffeine alone and it can’t ban drinks with alcohol alone. All new rules will do is cost some Americans their jobs and cut back on some corporate profits while revelers and bartenders will have to do the mixing themselves. That’s not much of a change since that’s where this party started anyway.

According to Bacardi mythology, the combination of rum and Coke - which combines alcohol and caffeine - goes back more than a century to the Spanish-American War when Theodore Roosevelt and the Roughriders, from the land of Coca-Cola, landed in Cuba, an island flowing with rum, and decided to combine the two during timeouts between battles with the hapless Spanish. Originally, the Roughriders called their drink “Cuba Libre” because they were fighting to liberate Cuba from Spain.

The alcohol and caffeine combo was surely born before Teddy and the gang finished off the decaying Spanish empire. People have been drinking alcohol for many thousands of years, and we’ve been drinking coffee for as much as a thousand years. Coffee liquors were born well before the 1898 war.

So go ahead guys, ban away. We’ll go on doing what we’ve always done. And maybe this time we can rename the drink. Instead of Cuba Libre, why not just Libre?

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