Rum & Coke

The recipe for this two-ingredient cocktail may be in the name, but there’s a lot more to the Rum & Coke than meets the eye. Learn the best ratio and type of rum to use in this easy, popular drink.

two rum and cokes with a citrus juicer

Rum & Coke recipe

A simple Rum & Coke provides refreshment like no other drink.

Smooth, bubbly cola and sweet rum are a winning combination. But there’s a lot more to this classic cocktail.

As we all know, it’s possible to order a bad Rum & Coke! Chances are good the proportions are off and the ingredients aren’t quality. (Hello, soda machine that needs more syrup!)

The rum to cola ratio and the type of rum both make a difference, especially with a recipe that has a short ingredient list!

There are a bunch of ways to make the rum and coke your own, by tweaking the type of soda and adding additional flavors if desired.

a cuba libra in a vintage cocktail glass with a rattan casing

Rum & Coke vs. Cuba Libre

The Rum & Coke is a two-ingredient drink you can order at pretty much any bar. (Though I suppose if they sell Pepsi and not Coca-Cola, you’d get a Rum & Pepsi instead!)

When lime juice is added to the Rum & Coke, it’s called a Cuba Libre. It’s also usually garnished with a lime wedge.

The Cuba Libre purportedly gets its name from a toast, “Por Cuba Libre!” meaning, “To a Free Cuba!” given by an American Army Captain in the year 1900 stationed in Havana during the Spanish-American War.

If you want to order a Cuba Libre, most bartenders will know that name, but you could also call it a “rum and coke with lime.”

a lime garnishing a rum and coke

Ingredients

When there are only two ingredients in a cocktail, that means they need to be really good! Quality ingredients will make the best version of this simple cocktail.

Best rum for Rum & Coke

Most people prefer to use white rum, also known as silver rum, in their Rum & Cokes, but other types can be used as well. A good quality rum will make a major difference — a cheap rum can ruin the drink.

Here’s a quick guide to the types of rum:

  • White/light/silver rum — Light and crisp and great for mixing into drinks like the Rum & Coke. If you would prefer to taste more cola than rum, then this is a great option. Bacardi is easily the most popular brand of light rum, but Mount Gay is another solid choice.
  • Gold/oro/ambre rum — Medium-bodied and slightly stronger, this one is an aged rum. The oak barrels it’s aged in will give a deeper flavor to your Rum & Coke cocktail. Gosling’s carries a very popular and versatile gold rum.
  • Dark/black — Richer with a strong, caramel-like flavor. This is a great choice for a stronger-tasting cocktail. Cruzan and Plantation are both well-known brands.
  • Spiced rum — Flavored with strong spices like cinnamon, vanilla and ginger, spiced rum is one you can find at the liquor store or you can make your own spiced rum at home. It adds a ton of flavor. If you use spiced rum, the drink is sometimes called a Spiced & Cola or a Captain & Coke. Kraken and Captain Morgan are two solid choices for spiced rum.
  • Rhum agricole — Very full-bodied, made from sugarcane juice not molasses. Like the molasses-based ones above, agricoles range in color from white to gold to dark. They also have floral and vegetal aromas and flavors, making them an interesting choice for this cocktail.
  • Flavored rum — Rum gets a new flavor with artificial flavorings like coconut or pineapple. These are a fun way to freestyle your Rum & Coke and try new flavors.

There is no wrong choice when it comes to the best rum for Rum & Cokes! Each of these is a delicious rum filled with a realm of possibilities. Try them in rum cocktails like the mojito, the hurricane or a frozen daiquiri.

a rum and coke with a lime wedge and bamboo straws

Best Cola for Rum & Cokes

Coca-Cola is the most popular brand for the classic Rum & Coke. Some people might argue the red can’s secret recipe is the only choice. After all, it has a high acidity which rum helps to balance out.

However, there are a lot of ways to enjoy this tasty cocktail.

Bottled Mexican Coke is made with real cane sugar and doesn’t contain corn syrup. Rum is also made from sugar cane, so this is a natural (and delicious) choice.

Pepsi comes from my home state of North Carolina, and it’s slightly sweeter than Coke. Some might prefer the flavor of Pepsi instead.

But there are other brands besides Coke and Pepsi, of course! Boylan Sugar Cane Cola Soda is one of my favorites to pick up at a specialty shop.

There are also craft sodas that are brewed for use in cocktails. Fentimans Curiosity Cola and Fever Tree Madagascan Cola are two that are loved.

You could also make your own cola with a SodaStream and cola syrup. You can even make homemade cola syrup.

And it doesn’t stop there. Below, I’ve included some more options — see the section called Variations and Substitutions.

Mix-ins

As in the Cuba Libre, a squeeze of fresh lime juice adds some tart flavor to balance out the sweet taste of cola.

You could also use a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a similar flavor.

If you want some additional flavor and sweetness, you can add a flavored simple syrup such as vanilla syrup or cherry syrup.

coke pouring into rum
coca cola fizzing in a glass

How to make a rum & coke

With a base of two ingredients, the Rum & Coke is one of the easiest cocktails you can make. And it’s so good on a hot day!

  1. Start with a chilled, tall glass, such as a highball glass (affiliate link) or collins glass (affiliate link). Add lots of ice.
  2. If you’re adding a mix-in like vanilla syrup, add it here.
  3. Then, add your rum. About 2 ounces should do the trick.
  4. Top with fizzy cola. Let the bubbles die back, then add more to fill the glass.
  5. Add a wedge of lime or lemon as a garnish. Squeeze it in before taking a sip!
closeup of ice in a rum and coke

Variations and substitutions

There are a number of ways to change up your Rum & Coke depending on your preferences.

Make it low-calorie: If you like diet soda, of course you can use that here! I know a lot of people who like theirs with Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, Coke Zero or Zevia Cola.

Make it non-alcoholic: Non-alcoholic options include Ritual rum alternative (affiliate link), which is my favorite if you’re looking for a light rum flavor. If you’d prefer the taste of dark rum, try Lyre’s Dark Cane Spirit. (These are also great low-calorie options.)

Try a flavored cola: Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke would also provide some additional flavor for a fun twist. You can also add your own flavoring with a flavored simple syrup.

Try another type of rum: Dark rum and spiced rum will bring the most flavor

More two-ingredient cocktail recipes

If you like easy 2-ingredient cocktails, try one of these delicious concoctions:

a cuba libra in a vintage cocktail glass with a rattan casing

Rum & Coke

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The classic Rum & Coke is refreshing and delicious. Learn to make it and then enjoy some variations to find your favorite combinations.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces silver rum
  • 6 ounces cola
  • lime wedge, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a highball glass filled with ice, add rum.
  2. Top with cola.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Notes

Best rum for a Rum & Coke: Silver rum AKA white rum is the most common and has a lighter taste. Dark rum and spiced rum will bring the most flavor.

Best cola: Coke and Pepsi are the most common but feel free to use any type of cola.

Variations:

  • Make it low-calorie: If you like diet soda, of course you can use that here! I know a lot of people who like theirs with Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, Coke Zero or Zevia.
  • Make it non-alcoholic: Try a non-alcoholic rum such as Ritual rum alternative, which is my favorite.
  • Try a flavored cola: Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke would also provide some additional flavor. Add your own flavoring with simple syrup if desired.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 226Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 7mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 2gSugar: 19gProtein: 0g

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