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A Drunken Voyage to Uncover the Best Rum and Coke

Mixologists, rum lovers and sailors come together to get drunk (and hopefully come up with a nice cocktail, too)

As far as cocktails go, rum and Coke gets the job done — it’s a functional beverage, nothing more, nothing less. The united sweetness of sugarcane-distilled rum and syrupy soda masks the alcohol’s bitterness, so you may as well order a double. It’s a drink for economical boozers, the type that don’t pretend taste matters, because they’re on a mission to get drunk and know exactly what they need to get there.

But perhaps I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe rum and Coke really can be something more, a delicate drink that stimulates both the palate and the pocketbook alike. To give it another shot, I asked an array of rumheads, mixologists and merchant marines about the best rum for rum and Coke. Let’s see if we can make something magical.

Raquel Ravenell of Whiskey and Rosemary, a lifestyle brand that focuses on all things cocktail-related: Rum and Cokes are simple, so when it’s time for me to have one, I go for a spiced rum, just to add a little character. One of my choices would be BACARDÍ Black. I like that the notes of molasses add a deeper sweetness to the cocktail, while the oak notes give it a subtle, smoky flavor. 

If I order a rum and Coke and want something a little lighter, I’d definitely go for Ten to One’s base rum. Their white rum has citrus and floral characteristics that certainly brightens the drink up. 

One of my favorite rums to have in a cocktail would be Blackwell Jamaican rum. If you want to add a little funk and spice to your life (or to your cocktail), this rum will do it for you [it’s similar to a spiced rum, but with hints of coconut and vanilla]. Even though I’d use a Jamaican rum, I’d add a pinch of lime and call it a Cuba Libre to make the island vibe complete.

Erika Moore, also of Whiskey and Rosemary: BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho has been one of my favorite rums for a couple of years now. I can recall tasting the Ocho for the first time and instantly falling in love with its beautiful blend of dried apricot, banana and spiced oak flavors. These specific notes pair well with Coca-Cola, adding a unique deep tropical spiced oak flavor to the crisp, caramel, traditional flavor of Coke. 

Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum is a treat paired with Coke. I can’t affirm I’m a huge fan of fruit-flavored spirits, but this one definitely etched out a space on my eternal palate. The naturally infused pineapple rum blended with Plantation Original Dark Rum’s smokey clove flavors that make up this spirit jollify a rum and Coke each time.

Dave Marsland, owner of the Manchester Rum Festival and Drinks Enthusiast, a booze-focused brand-building company: Rum and cola for me needs to have impact, yet be smooth enough to enjoy again and again. With this, Chairman’s Reserve Original offers me a great flavor without too much cola needed to round off the edges. 

If I’m looking for a heavy hitter, Myers’s Rum is a cracking go-to, with the weight of Jamaica behind it for a rich kick. On the odd occasion, though, I’m on the hunt for something different, and Rhum Clément VSOP with Coca-Cola Spicy really ups the game on the traditional rum and cola.

Jo Goforth, a tall ship sailor with loads of pirate knowledge: Bumbu Rum. It’s good, and it’s made in Barbados. It’s fantastic straight or on the rocks and will make a great rum and Coke. But also, if you’re going to drown out the flavor of the rum with the Coke, Kraken is generally the go-to spiced rum that works for mixed drinks. It’s a solid rum while being cost effective.

Dennis, a merchant marine captain who’s operated vessels all over the world, including in pirate territory: I’m a Havana Club man myself. Most of the pirates I’ve encountered don’t drink rum, but they do chew a lot of khat, which is a stimulant from a plant. 

Wait, screw rum and Coke — I’ll have some of that.