Rare Cuban Traditional drink for new baby

P1000161One of my readers writes to me looking for a recipe for “Alinado.” He explains this drink is made when someone is pregnant and then drunk in celebration once the baby is born.

I had never heard of this before so I forwarded the message out to my Cuban family and friends. My sister married a man from Oriente, and his family is the one with the information!! I’m thinking this must be a local tradition to Oriente because I have never heard of this before. My family is from Havana and my mom lived in Pinar Del Rio and Marianao for a little while.

Here’s the tradition: Once someone is pregnant, someone in the family makes the Alinado (directions follow below) then it is put in a big bucket or container and it’s buried underground until the baby is born.

Once the baby is born family and visitors drink it to celebrate the birth of the baby.

I think it’s actually a pretty cool tradition!! What do you think? Are you from Cuba and have heard or participated in this tradition? If so, comment here — I’d love to hear about it.

Graciela (my sisters’ mother-in-law) explained the recipe to me, but can’t give me specific measurments, this is the best I can do right now:

Alinado Recipe

You will need to double this recipe as necessary. Graciela just eye’s this and “feels” the right amounts. You’ll need to experiment yourself. Follow your heart and I’m sure it will be awesome!

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 package ciruelas pasas (prunes) ** must have
Fresh fruits such as: apple (cubed) and grapes
2 cups Rum
  1. Make the syrup: Bring water to a boil, stir in sugar.
  2. Turn heat to low and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely.
  3. Remove from heat and add fruit and rum to taste.

Join the Conversation

  1. Thank you so much, Betty, for all your help in tracking down the recipe for this tradition.You just made my day. I am becoming an “abuelo” next year, and I want to continue with this tradion that my dad shared with me for the birth of each of my kids.

    I agree that the recipe “feels” right. I watched my father making it many years ago, and although I didn’t take down the recipe, I remember the sugar/water, the prunes (a must), and the abundance of fresh fruit.

    I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. Hola, Betty


    I’m from Cienfuegos, in Las Villas Province and have never heard of this drink or custom.

  3. Mabelle G. says:


    Thanks for the recipe! My mom is from Oriente and remembers this tradition. She has wondered about the ingredients for the recipe for a long time. It must be a local tradition. Very interesting!

  4. Wow, super interesting and cool. I’ve never heard of this at all, I’m not Cuban though so perhaps that’s why. That is a very neat tradition, though. Although I wonder if those mothers breastfed after drinking the rum, or just the guests drank it?

  5. We just returned from Holguin City and while visiting friends who are expecting a baby in December, we learned about this wonderful tradition and actually saw a large vat of Alinado brewing on the table (they didn’t bury theirs, as was mentioned). Our friends are saving some of the drink for us when we return in April, but I’m also thinking of making it myself, so we can toast the arrival of their new baby girl along with all of their nearby family and friends … we’ll just be a few thousand kilometers away and in a much colder climate when we do it 🙂 I suspect apples are not part of the original recipe, since they’re pretty much impossible to find in Cuba. But I’m sure they’d make a nice substitute. Thanks so much for finding and posting this recipe.
    Nancy (Nova Scotia, Canada)

  6. Thank you so much!! I am from Oriente but came to live in the US as a little child. When my daughter was born 10 years ago, my grandmother made it and I put it in a glass container not buried (although this is the tradition) and stashed it is a dark corner of the pantry. The tradition in our family at least is to toast when the baby is born and then again when the child turns 15. I took it out the other day and tried it, and it is better than it was – a must have recepie in the family! Only thing is that my grandmother now has Dimentia and my mom never learned how to make it. Yes apples are part of the recepie as I recall the drink being strained prior to putting it away. I want to say that my grandmother also added a bit of Brandy Fundador to it but cannot say for certain. Thank you for the post!!!

  7. This is an old Cuban tradition. I am 60 and it was made for me (in the US) by my mother, and I remember her making it for my siblings’ births as well. She also added other fresh fruits and dried fruit as well (raisins come to mind), and yes, brandy. In our family a bottle out of the batch was put away for toasting a special occasion relating to that particular baby: its wedding or engagement, for example. THOSE bottles were mighty good, as you can imagine! My family was from Oriente province as well, but I’m pretty sure this came down as a tradition from Spain.

    1. Betty Author says:

      Martha, thank you for the post and information, I didn’t realize this tradition may have come down from Spain but that makes sense. thanks!

  8. Hey there,

    My family is from Oriente (Victoria de las Tunas) and my grandfather used to make these as well. He was quite good at it and made batches for me and my cousin when we were born. One batch was made in 1978 and another in 1982. The younger one was opened in 1997 for my cousin Monika’s turned 15 – it was great. But my mother held on to my older batch until I graduated from grad school in 2005. That 27 year old stuff was absolutely superb – just a small taste would get you woozy. My grandfather having passed about 14 years earlier, you can imagine the emotion and meaning of trying his specially made drink. It’s an amazing tradition and i stumbled upon your recipe because having been married just a few weeks ago I going to start the tradition again in my family and make a batch that my wife and I and our family can try and share on our one year, 10 year, 25 year, etc. anniversaries.

    Alex Dominguez

    1. Betty Author says:

      Alex, thank you for your comment. I wish we were closer so I can try some of the woozy stuff 🙂

      My best – Betty

  9. Nina Fernandez says:

    I come from a Cuban background. My father was born in Las Tunas which is where all of my family still lives today. I also have family in la Habana and in Puerto Padre. I have heard of this tradition although, no one in my family ever did it (at least that I know of) I think it may have been because of how poor my grandmothers family was back then and technically still is today. I do have a liqour in my house that my grandmother told me about. She said my abuelo made it but it was so long ago that I don’t remember anything else she said about it. Unfortunately, she died a year ago and I can never ask again about it. I constantly look at it but have never tired it, although im wondering if it is this particular drink. I consider myself blessed because I was raised by my grandparents and learned so many traditions and I can cook very well thanks to my abuelita. I am so happy to have the recipe now and will speak with my family about this. Thank you

    1. bettyhakes Author says:


      Thank you for your comment. My Abuela also fueled my passion for cooking. Although it’s been 16 years since she’s been gone, I remember her often. Especially today while making Flan :-).
      May you have a blessed holiday season and a wonderful new year.

      1. Georgina Figueira says:

        Hi. I was given a verbal recipe for homemade wine. 8 liters of dark sugar, 8 juice, 8 water,
        2 oz. Fleishman yeast. Yiedls 10 -12 bottles. You strain the juice (sour or sweet orange
        juice. Add to 5 gallon jug (water bottle).Add desired fruits. Cover mouth of jug with cloth
        (probably cheese cloth) and tied. Place in dark place (usually in dark corner of cupboard)
        for 35 days. Then you sift to remove sediment and bottle. Am sure the Alinado you
        mentioned to not only celebrate a new birth but any occasion that merits a drinking it.

  10. Mary Garrido says:

    My family is from Oriente and the traditional Alineado was a must for every new pregnancy. We would make it once the woman was 3 months pregnant and it would sit in a dark place for the rest of the pregnancy. Once the child was born, the jug was opened and all the visitors would get a taste and drink to the new mother and baby. At that time, a bottle was put away for the child’s 5th birthday, another for the 15th birthday and the last one for the wedding. My son’s Alineado was just finished when we drank it at his wedding rehearsal dinner. He was 30. It was incredible. Now my son’s wife is pregnant and we are getting ready to make the jug for his baby. It is a wonderful tradition.

    1. Hi, I am delighted that I found this website in how to make this sweet cordial and learn more from the comments. I too was born in Oriente province,Cuba and my family followed the same traditions. The alinado drink was shared at the baby’s birth. We were not there to continue with the 5yr.,15yr and,wedding toast but drank this delicious cordial. Several families from our town settled in Rochester,NY in the early 60’s and made alinado. It was rare but some continued this tradition. I recall how we kids used to get a taste too when we visited the family with the new baby. I am going to be a first time grandmother and had been looking for the ingredients that go into making this drink. I want to continue with this old tradition with my grand daughter. I had been searching and found your site. I have been asking and found variations of the alinado using other ingredients. Some use sugar cane aguardiente(cane moonshine) instead of rum.It is easier to buy rum than to find the aguardiente in Miami. Other ingredients added are dry fruits like cherries,raisins,pineapple and a full can of fruit cocktail…the dry fruit is added to the syrup along with a few cinnamon sticks and star anise till plum. simmer till infused. Cool. Then add the rum and place in large glass container for the next six months in a dark place. Why does it have to be in a dark place?? Thank you for posting how to make alinado. This helped me with the syrup- rum -ratio and the comments and information shared by others. I hope to start making it soon, so as to give it time to be ready for baby’s birth.

    2. Mary please email me. I m trying to make this, but I need some advice. I m from Oriente as well, but I really don’t know how to make it…. i have many different ideas in mind but everybody seems to tell me something different. … my email is ismerysm@yahoo.com

  11. My dad use to make this for every pregnant lady in the family. The recipe died with him. He however use to buryou or pace it in a very dark space to ferment.

  12. Carmen De Tommaso says:

    I am from Santiago and came 1967 I was 15 years old but I just shared this with my husband as a memory that just came to me and I need to confirm my memory because I only was a exposed once but it was very memorable and it was and the big glass container from the big water Botle !!

    1. I have heard of this tradition, a friend that lives in Trinidad makes this in her family, they put it in a big bottle that looks like a large water container/bottle, 2 bottles of alcohol with a large amount of fresh fruit such as mango, pineapple, cherries etc it is buried in the ground until the baby is born and then they drink some to celebrate it’s birth, placed back in ground til that baby turns 15 to then celebrate the child’s “coming of age”

  13. Maria willmarth says:

    I have heard of it, and have taking part on the consumption of the brew, slightly on the sweet side; but being of Cuban decent and with 1st grandchild on the way I’m looking to start the process. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. bettyhakes Author says:

      You are so welcomed! And congratulations to your family, many blessings.

  14. Steve weeks says:

    Once all the fruit is added, is everything bottled together? Is it strained now or later? What happens tp the fruit over several years? Would like to make this for my granddaughter, for her baby. Can someone help me out with exact instructions? Thanks. S.weeksr@gmail.com

    1. bettyhakes Author says:

      Hi Steve, I haven’t found the exact recipe. One of the other readers mentions a recipe about straining the fruit, but my brother in law’s family didn’t mention to strain. I think you just combine everything into a jar. I would probably pour the rum into a glass over a strainer so you don’t get the fruit into the cup. Honestly, I have never had or made it, but as you can see by the comments others have. Good luck and best wishes to your growing family.

  15. Nestor Gonzalez says:

    more rum;

    I remember my father making this for the birth of my little brother. He also kept a jug full in the refrigerator for years.

  16. Damaris Haegele says:

    Yes, in deed the Aliñado is a Cuban, Oriente traditional drink. As soon as a woman knows she is pregnant usually the mother or mother-in-law start to make the Aliñado. As the pregnancy advances more fruits are added and tasted to make sure the fruits are thoroughly getting the full taste of the syrup and rum. At around the 3rd month of pregnancy the huge usually a commercial water bottle is buried until the birth of the baby. This drink is offered to the visitors when they call on the family to meet the baby in cordial glasses. It is a very potent drink due to the time the concoction has been fermenting underground. It is delicious but consume it slowly and carefully it can make you quite drunk! Also a bottle is filled of the Aliñado and buried to be opened when the child celebrates “Los Quince”. Also you save some to toast when you are married. What a touching, lovely tradition. I am sorry that I never got to taste mine since I celebrated my “15th birthday in the USA. Heaven only knows where the bottle ended up or if it is still buried in the backyard of our old house in Victoria de las Tunas. Oh, well…..what can I say but “que maldad que me lo perdi”.

    1. bettyhakes Author says:

      Thank you for sharing the history. Requerdos, Betty

      1. Zoila Gonzlez says:

        Enjoy reading your post and everyone’s family stories about their alinado. My and husband and I are expecting our first grandchild. And my husband is from Santiago, his mother made all of her grandchildren this special drink to celebrate. However her version involves making the syrup with fig leaves and using some of the old alinado as a stater, like you do sourdough or yogurt. The rest of the recipe is similar; dried fruits, aguardiente, glass bottle and leaving in a dark place undisturbed. I look forward to making this special drink and continuing the tradition.

  17. celeste pazos says:

    Yes I was born in Santiago, My mother is from Palma Soriano and my father is (washe is deceased)from Ballamo. All tree places are in Oriente. When I had my daughter here in the USA my parents made it for me. It is a wonderful tradition which I plan to carry o. Thank you for the recipe and the memories.

  18. Olenma Alvarez says:

    Absolutely, my family is from Oriente, Cuba and my brother and I were born there. When my sister-in-law and brother were expecting their first child my family made a huge glass bucket/jug. As previously stated once the baby was born a toast was made. Exact ingredients are vague, and while my mom is living her recall is typical, a little of this, a bit of that and wait.”

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