Perfect Rum and Coke

If you look up the word “perfect” in the dictionary, the definition will be this Rum and Coke.

Perfect Rum and Coke

Last year, I was at the Great Britain 007 Fan Club event “Cocktails & Canapes”, held in Burbank, California. I met many new friends, fellow club members, our president and got to hang out with a bevy of beautiful Bond Girls. The conversation was fun, the bar was outside and the evening was warm and perfect. At one point my partner asked me to grab a Cuba Libre for them, and I happily obliged. Already a few Palomas into the evening, I wiggled up to the bar, slapped my money down and declared to the sauce slinger “I need a Cuba Libre. Not even sure what is.”

The barkeep cocked an eyebrow at me and smirked. “So you want a Rum & Coke?” Everyone at the bar stopped what they were doing and turned to look. If a record had been playing, it would’ve scratched itself to a halt. I remember my head sort of half-nodding and half-shaking as I searched for the proper answer. The only thing that came out was “Is that… um… yes.”

Upon returning to our private party with the cocktail in hand, my partner took it, sipped once and said “this is just a Rum & Coke. I wanted a Cuba Libre.” Now, I was really confused. And the Bond Girls were staring at me. There’s no real end to this anecdote, except for the sheepish grin I was stuck with the rest of the night.

But my mind-grapes had been squeezed again. Is a Cuba Libre a Rum & Coke? Or is a Rum & Coke a Cuba Libre? So I did a little digging. Turns out, they are very, very similar. And one seemed to be born out of the other.

In the 1900s, when Cuba gained its independence from the Spanish, an American Army captain living in Havana was said to have added the popular soft drink Coca-Cola to his rum and lime mixture… and the “Cuba Libre” was born. This particular cocktail is made with freshly squeezed lime juice, along with the spirit base and cola topper.

I was still a little befuddled. This sounds like a Rum & Coke. So I did a little more armchair archaeology. The Rum & Coke, while garnished with lime, is really just what the name entails, rum and a dark, fizzy cola. No lime juice added to the mix. And this drink’s origins, while definitely inspired by the Libre, seemed to have evolved throughout Prohibition. With alcohol outlawed and being made illegally in bathtubs and basement stills, the quality of the spirits were a little rough. Coca-Cola became a popular mixer, which helped hide the rough-edged flavors and textures of the clandestine libations.

Then World War II broke out. American companies and everyday citizens all pitched in to the war effort, rationing supplies and altering their manufacturing output to help the soldiers fighting overseas. Rum consumption went up 400%, as this spirit was imported from the Caribbean and not hampered by the conflict. With the Coca-Cola company exempt from sugar rationing, the inevitable off-shoot of the Cuba Libre, the Rum & Coke, was born. In 1943, the calypso song “Rum & Coca-Cola” by Lord Invader was released. A few years later the Andrews Sisters covered the song and scored themselves a huge hit with it, further cementing the cocktail’s place in popular culture, as well as in the annals of history.

A mainstay at bars and parties the world over, the Rum & Coke is claimed by Bacardi to be the second most popular cocktail in the world, due to its simplicity and relatively low cost of the ingredients.

So a Rum & Coke and a Cuba Libre are Different?

This can be confusing as many bars and restaurants will serve Cuba Libres as Rum & Cokes, and vice-versa, like they are interchangeable, such as the place I was at in the story above. Many folks can’t tell the difference, but for me cocktails are all about balance. Adding an extra ingredient to any drink will change the fundamental qualities of its original recipe. Twist & Toast has a great piece on the Cuba Libre and how to make it, check it out. Try that and a Rum & Coke side-by-side to taste the difference.

What is the Best Rum to Use in a Rum and Coke?

With a Rum & Coke being just those two ingredients, you can play around with the style of spirit you use. A white or silver rum will be clear and brighter in taste, with the tropical notes very forward. Add in the Coke, and this version of the drink is a crisp and sweet affair. Using a dark rum will bring more spicy and aged flavors like vanilla and caramel, making your beverage a more robust and fizzy outing. Try them both ways, each is very good and very refreshing.

Perfect Rum and Coke
Servings 1 serving
serving 3 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces rum light or dark
  • 4 to 6 ounces Coca-Cola
  • Garnish: lime wedge

Instructions

  • Gather all the ingredients to have them ready for mixing.
  • Fill a highball glass with ice to chill the drink and make it more refreshing.
  • Pour 2 ounces of your preferred rum over the ice in the glass.
    Perfect Rum and Coke
  • Slowly add 4 to 6 ounces of Coca-Cola to the glass, depending on how strong you like your drink.
    Perfect Rum and Coke
  • Cut a lime wedge for garnish, and squeeze a bit of its juice into the drink if you like a citrusy zing.
    Perfect Rum and Coke
  • Stir the mixture gently to combine the flavors without losing the cola’s fizz.
    Perfect Rum and Coke
  • Garnish with the lime wedge on the rim of the glass or drop it into the drink.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy responsibly.

Nutrition

Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 3mg | Sugar: 10g | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Perfect Rum and Coke

FAQs & Tips

Perfect Rum and Coke

Similar Cocktails to the Rum & Coke

Two ingredient drinks will never go out of style or fall out of favor. Trends may come and go, but a great cocktail will always remain a great cocktail. If the Rum & Coke has gotten you thirsty for even more simple and perfectly balanced libations, Twist & Toast has you covered. Check out a few of our recipes below:

  • 7 & 7 – Seagram’s 7 whiskey and 7-Up make the perfect pair in this classic “tough guy” cocktail.
  • Gin & Tonic – What once was medicine has now become one of the most iconic tipples in history.
  • Pink Gin – Bitters and gin is all you need for one of author Ian Fleming’s favorite beverages.
  • Cement Mixer Shot – Irish Cream liqueur and lime juice… Pound this one if you dare.

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