The Rum & Coke: How Not to Ruin This Simple Drink

Rum and coke
Claire Cohen
  • 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 Cocktail
Ratings (94)

Rum & Coke is an unbelievably simple yet satisfying cocktail. Everything that you need to know about mixing this popular drink is there in the name. That being said, even the easiest of mixed drinks can be made just a little better (or worse) and deserves a bit more attention than it often receives.

At its most basic level, the Rum & Coke will be as simple as a pour of your favorite rum in a tall glass filled with ice. It is finished off with a cola (Coca-Cola is the soda of choice) and a lime wedge. As many drinkers can attest, it is easy to get a bad Rum & Coke.

What You'll Need

How to Make It

  1. Pour the rum into a highball glass filled with ice.
  2. Top with cola.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.

The Proportions

Where the Rum & Coke often goes bad is the ratio of the two ingredients. It is an easy drink that bartenders (pro and amateur alike) typically dismiss the need for flavor balance. This results in a drink that is either "burnt" with alcohol or too sweet with soda.

The problem comes to light when drinkers try to 'fix' a bad Rum & Coke.

All too often, they feel that they ​did not pour enough rum because they cannot taste it, so they add another shot. Now they have a double shot of rum and unless another splash of Coke is added, the drink is too strong and "burnt". This is great if you want to get drunk, but not so good if you want to taste a good drink.

What are the best proportions for a Rum & Coke? Typically, most drinkers will find a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3 to have the best flavor and much of that will depend on the rum you choose. With a spiced rum, stick with the 1:3 so the spice does not overpower the drink. With a light rum, go with the stronger 1:2.

  • The 1:2 pour creates a classically-styled Rum & Coke. To make this in the average 10-ounce highball glass, you would pour 2 ounces of rum and 4 ounces of Coke.
  • The 1:3 pour is often preferred by modern drinkers because we tend to like our drinks a little sweeter. This version would use 2 ounces of rum with 6 ounces of Coke.

Don't worry that either of these pours will not fill the 10-ounce glass. You should have already filled your glass with ice, which will take up the rest of the volume. Consider ice to be the Rum & Coke's third ingredient (a step often overlooked by home bartenders).

The Rum

It is tempting to pour any old rum that is on the rail or the well into a Rum & Coke. The theory is that this is too simple of a drink and should not be used to waste a perfectly good shot of booze, so we tend to use the cheap stuff.

White rums are the most popular base for a Rum & Coke though we encourage you to try aged rums as well.

The Coke

By rights, the Rum & Coke is made with Coca-Cola and this is what the bartender will give you at the bar. Some drinkers prefer Pepsi because it is a softer cola and that is perfectly fine. Be sure to order a "Rum & Pepsi" at the bar if this is your preference.

You will notice a big difference in Coke that is sold in the U.S. and that meant for the Mexican market. Mexican Coke uses real sugar! Whenever possible, pick this up because the high fructose corn syrup we are used to pales in comparison, particularly in mixed drinks.

How strong is the rum & coke?

Despite its reputation, the properly poured Rum & Coke is a surprisingly light drink because the cola and ice make up the most of the drink's volume.

With an 80-proof rum, the 1:2 Rum & Coke weighs in at 12% ABV (24 proof) and the 1:3 is a little lighter at 9.5% ABV (19 proof).

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 191
Total Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Unsaturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 5 mg
Carbohydrates 15 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 0 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)