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Three Ways: Rum & Coke

For a drink that’s simple in both concept and construction, the Rum & Coke carries with it a surprisingly lengthy history, with facets ranging from the Spanish-American War (hence the drink’s Cuba Libre alias) to World War II, and a heavy dose of corporate propaganda. (For those who want to learn more, we suggest the book And a Bottle of Rum by contributing editor Wayne Curtis.) Obfuscation aside, the combo has stood the test of time. And while it’s unlikely you’ll see a standard Rum & Coke on the menu at a craft cocktail bar, you just might encounter a variation riffing on the classic flavor profile.

Smokey Cokey

At Bandits in New York City, a penchant for the playful is demonstrated via cocktails like the Smokey Cokey—white rum spiked with fernet and sweetened with cola syrup, served in a Coke bottle “capped” with a lemon candy. “I’ve always wanted to create a Rum Old Fashioned, and this felt like a great marriage between two classics,” says general manager Dan Stern.

2 oz. white rum (Bandits uses Ten to One)
3/4 oz. cola syrup
1/4 oz. fernet

Tools: mixing glass, bar spoon, strainer, 8-oz. Coca-Cola bottle
Glass: rocks
Garnish: Lemonhead candy

Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill. Strain the mixture into an 8-oz. Coca-Cola bottle. (At Bandits, they smoke the bottle with dried lemon peel, but if you don’t have a cocktail smoking gun, feel free to skip this step.) Top the bottle with a Lemonhead candy and serve the drink with a rocks glass and a large ice cube.
Cola SyrupAdd 12 oz. Coca-Cola to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and simmer on low heat until reduced by half. Weigh the reduction, then mix it with half its weight in sugar and stir until dissolved, bottling for use within 2 weeks.

Dan Stern, Bandits, New York City

“Rum & Coke”

At Drink in Boston, there’s no cocktail menu. Simply tell the bartender what you like, and they’ll create a cocktail to spec. “This drink came about when a guest requested something like a Rum & Coke, without using a Coke product,” says Roberto Cibrian Stockbridge, Drink’s general manager. “Coke’s main flavors are vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and acid, which are also present in the amaro I used. I combined the amaro with lemon to emulate the Coke flavors, and then added soda to get the fizz.”

1 oz. dark rum (Stockbridge uses Flor de Caña 12-year)
1 oz. Amaro Montenegro
1/4 oz. fresh lime juice
5 dashes Angostura bitters
Chilled soda water

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: Collins
Garnish: lemon or lime wedge

To mix the cocktail, add all the ingredients, except the soda water, to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice, top with chilled soda water, and give a gentle stir to incorporate. Garnish.

Roberto Cibrian Stockbridge, Drink, Boston

Rum & Cola Daiquiri

We all know rum and cola is a classic flavor combo, so why not put it into a smaller format like a Daiquiri? Who doesn’t love a Daiquiri?” says Sid Chi, bar manager at Holy Ghost Bar in Portland, Oregon. Chi accomplishes this by making a Coca-Cola syrup to sweeten the rum and lime juice, then adds complexity with a kick of Amaro CioCiaro. “The CioCiaro has notes of flat cola, lemon peel, and licorice root—the perfect addition to a cola-forward tasting cocktail.”

2 oz. white rum (Chi uses Plantation 3-Star)
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. cola syrup
1/4 oz. Amaro CioCiaro

Tools: shaker, strainer, fine strainer
Glass: chilled coupe
Garnish: lime wedge

To mix the drink, add all the ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish.
Cola SyrupTo make the syrup, add 12 oz. of Mexican Coca-Cola to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat on medium, stirring frequently, until reduced by half. Stir in 180 grams of sugar until dissolved, let cool, and bottle for use within 1 month.

Sid Chi, Holy Ghost Bar, Portland, Oregon

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