Rum and coke photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Rum and Coke - simply the best rum cocktail?

Table of Contents

Introduction
Recipe and ingredients
Choosing the best rum
Choosing the best Coke
Getting the best ratio
Variations and twists
The Cuba Libre cocktail
Conclusion

 

Introduction

The Rum and Coke is amongst the simplest of cocktails and that is a significant part of its enduring charm. It is extremely easy to make and refreshing to enjoy. However, despite its small number of ingredients, quite different tasting drinks can be made. As in all things cocktail related, it is all about the recipe and the ingredients. The better quality those ingredients are, the better the resulting rum cocktail.

It is easy to see why Rum and Coke works as a cocktail. Many sour cocktails work by having a very sour ingredient, such as a citrus fruit juice, mixed with something very sweet, such as simple syrup. In the resulting taste sensation, a strong spirit, such as a spiced rum, can bring a sense of balance to the mix. It is the same with the Rum and Coke. The Coke is highly acidic as well as being sweet and so the rum works beautifully with the drink. It is one of the major reasons that Coke is such a popular mixer with spirits.

Recipe and Ingredients

At its core, a Rum and Coke recipe tells you to fill a tall glass with ice and pour your favourite rum into it. Then top it up with Coca-Cola and garnish with a wedge of lime.

- Fill a highball glass with ice
- Pour in 50ml rum
- Top up with either 100ml or 150ml of Coca-Cola, depending on your favourite ratio (1:2 or 1:3)
- Garnish with a wedge of lime

You can use a Collins glass rather than a highball and you can put the rum in the freezer so that the ice takes longer to melt. Some people prefer a slice of lemon rather than the wedge of lime. As you can already see, there are a lot of aspects to consider when getting this fabulous rum cocktail to be just right and we cover more of them below.

Choosing the best rum

White rums are the most used rum and make an agreeable Rum and Coke, due to their gentle sweetness and flavour. Dark rums have a stronger flavour, usually due to their aging in a barrel, and this follows into the taste of the Rum and Coke. Black rums also fit in this category although they are often much sweeter and can taste of treacle. Spiced rums allow the spices to bring a depth of flavour to the Rum and Coke. In the Swan Knight golden spiced rum, the flavours of spices, vanilla and caramel come out in the Rum and Coke. You can also use a mix of rums, such as equal parts of light and dark rums, to get a different taste.

For stronger rums, add a splash of water to mellow out the flavour and fumes, before adding the Coke. Broadly, 45% ABV and below is delightful when drunk neat or on the rocks. Over 45% ABV, the rum can taste better with a mixer. I suggest that if you choose a rum that you can enjoy straight or on the rocks then you will not go wrong. In fact, that is my preference for all cocktails so that if I do not like the spirit neat then I will most probably not like the result.

Choosing the best Coke

When requesting a Rum and Coke at a bar, it is made with Coca-Cola. If you prefer the softer flavour of Pepsi, then you should order a Rum and Pepsi. The same is true for other types of cola, for example, Diet Coke (known as "Rum and Diet").

It is also true that there are differences in the recipe for cola between countries and those differences can be reflected in the taste of that specific Rum and Coke. Some cola recipes use real sugar whilst others use High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and the acidity levels can vary too, all of which can change the flavour of the cocktail. Other colas such as Fentimans and Fever Tree are also worth trying out. In our experience, some of the budget colas can yield some interesting and different results. As always with cocktails, it is well worth experimenting until you find the cola that suits your palate best.

Getting the best ratio

1:2 pour is a classical style Rum and Coke ratio, but it is now common for people to have 1:3 as they prefer their drink to be a little sweeter. However, it is easy to get this wrong, as people can complain that they do not taste enough alcohol in a 1:3 mix, so they add another shot of rum. At that point, the drink can have an almost burnt taste from too much alcohol. However, add too much Coke and the cocktail can taste far too sweet. Like all cocktails, it is about trying out various combinations until you find one that works for you.

Variations and twists

As an alternative to the above recipe, the International Bartenders Association recommends five cl (centilitres) of light rum, twelve cl of cola and one cl of fresh lime juice on ice. We have also enjoyed Rum and Cokes with Pepsi Max, Cherry Coke as well as three dashes of Angostura Bitters, which really bring out the spices in our spiced rum. You can also order at a bar, a "Captain and Pepper", which is a recipe that uses Dr Pepper and spiced rum. Finally, unsurprisingly, you can also find Rum and Coke in a handy can.

The Cuba Libre cocktail

In the United States, the Cuba Libre cocktail is known as the classic Rum and Coke. In reality, it is a Rum and Coke as per the above recipe but with added freshly squeezed lime juice. We use about 10ml of that juice, and strain it, when we make a Cuba Libre.

The stories surrounding the origins of the cocktail are many and varied. What does seem clear is that it was created in Cuba around 1900 to celebrate Cuban independence from Spain. The Spanish-American war in 1898 led to Cuba's Independence and "Cuba Libre", meaning "Free Cuba", was a battle cry of the Cuban Liberation Army. One story says that a group of off-duty U.S. soldiers went out for drinks in Old Havana. A captain ordered rum and cola on ice and enjoyed it so much that he encouraged these soldiers to do likewise, and they toasted "Por Cuba Libre!" to celebrate the freedom of Cuba. Another version, which is supported by Bacardi, is that in August 1900, a 14 year old messenger called Fausto Rodriguez was at a Havana bar with his employer, a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He witnessed him ordering a Bacardi rum mixed with Coca-Cola. Fausto went on to become an advertising executive with Bacardi and produced a notarized affidavit in 1965 to back up his story. Finally, a further version has that the drink was first created in 1902 at Havana's El Floridita restaurant to celebrate the anniversary of Cuban independence. Whichever story you believe, you can be sure that the cocktail is a delicious addition to any party or family gathering.

Conclusion

Rum and Coke is so popular that Bacardi believe it to be the world's second most popular alcoholic drink. Drink critics often have a low opinion of this rum cocktail and when it is made with mediocre ingredients, I am inclined to agree. However, use high quality ingredients and experiment until you find a mix and ratio that works for you, and it can be a fantastic, easy to enjoy and drink with family and friends. What more could you ask for?

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