12 Best Rums For Rum And Coke

Rum and coke is a deceptively complex cocktail. Though this rum drink calls for just two ingredients — or three if you count a wedge of lime or a squirt of lime juice — there are many different types of rum, and the brand and style you pick will alter the taste, texture, and mood of the cocktail significantly. This is a choose your own adventure cocktail, and half the fun of that choice is exploring the different options at hand.

Do you want a white or silver rum that'll melt into the cola, keeping things light and aromatic? Perhaps a spiced rum to counter the soda's sweetness with a little ... well, spice? Or maybe you want an overproof black rum, thick and dark and powerful. There's no right answer for which of the above goes in a rum and coke. It's all about the drinker's mood, the occasion, and what you've got available to you.

Many cocktails riff on themselves by swapping out the base spirit. A Negroni, for instance, becomes a Boulevardier when you substitute whiskey for gin. The beauty of a rum and coke? You can stick to a single spirit category and still find yourself with what seems to be a dozen different cocktails. So throw your preconceived notions to the wind — it's time to try the whole color (and ABV) spectrum that rum has to offer. (And if you want to get extra fancy, you can even make your own homemade cola.)

Koloa Kaua'i Spice

One of our favorite go-to styles for rum and coke is spiced rum. There's something deliciously contradictory about an ice-cold drink that warms you up, and spiced rum in a frosty rum and coke does just that. 

Koloa Kaua'i is one of our favorite choices for something spiced to pair with your favorite cola. According to the brand's website, this rum is distilled from pure cane sugar in a steam-powered copper pot still, and the distillers use filtered water from Hawaii's Mount Waiʻaleʻale. Koloa Kaua'i is a more artisanal spirit than commercial booze, and it avoids the overly sweet, cloying thickness of its mainstream cousins.

You can expect warming spices on the palate, with dessert-like notes that recall nutty chocolate. This stuff will go well with just about any cola, but Fentiman's Curiosity Cola has a cinnamon component that plays especially well with Koloa Kaua'i. 

Captain Morgan Original Spiced

We know what you're going to say. This is the stuff that gave you an awful hangover in college, and there's no way that any self-respecting, sophisticated drinker would choose this for rum and cokes. We say you're wrong. The Captain mixes perfectly with cola, which is why it's become such a tried and true go-to for rum and coke drinkers at college parties and beyond.

The hard pill to swallow? Captain Morgan just tastes good when it's paired with coke. The drink will be a sugar bomb, sure, but that's sort of what you're signing up for when you want a rum and coke. The brand's website describes the rum as having subtle notes of vanilla and caramel. And while we question whether "subtle" is the aptest descriptor here, we do agree that these saccharine flavors stand out and make for a delicious addition to your next drink. 

Some purists might tell you that the inclusion of citrus changes your cocktail from a rum and coke into a Cuba Libre. We believe this distinction is more semantic than anything, and that most rum and cokes can benefit from the addition of lime. With Captain and cola, you'll definitely need that citrus to undercut the thick vanilla sugar flavor. The little pop of bright acid from a lime wedge goes a long way in re-balancing your drink, so don't skip it.

Kraken Black Spiced

Kraken Spiced Black Rum ain't your casual sunshine sipper, but it makes a damn fine rum and coke for a brisk autumn day or nighttime around a bonfire. This stuff is just slightly overproof (as far as rums go), clocking in at 47% ABV. Compare that to a Navy Strength (54-57% ABV) or 151 (75.5% ABV), and all things considered, this is still considered to be on the tamer end of the spectrum.

That being said, Kraken is certainly no wimpy spirit. The stuff is dark, thick, and powerful, with notes of nutty caramel, vanilla, and spice. It's among the rums that work best in a Dark 'n' Stormy, but it also performs well when pitted against a solid, flavorful cola.

 We admit the whole Kraken bit is a bit kitschy, drawing on sea monster lore with slogans like "beware the beast" and inviting website visitors to join the "League of Darkness." If you can get past all that theater, there's a truly delightful spirit to be had. The rum is spicy without being off-balance, and it makes a very drinkable rum and coke with a just bit of a bite.

Flor de Caña

According to its website, Flor de Caña's story begins way back in 1890 when the distillery was founded at the foot of Nicaragua's active San Cristóbal volcano. More than 130 years later, the family-run operation is still distilling and selling excellent rum. And while the brand's portfolio includes an impressive array of styles and ages, we've chosen the Flor de Caña 4 Year Extra Seco as our rum of choice for your next rum and coke. It's incredibly light on its feet, with a nutty aromatic profile and a tangle of vanilla and floral notes on the palate. It's a white rum that'll melt right into your rum and coke, offering flavor and character without stepping on the cola or announcing itself too loudly.

You can also sip this stuff with a clean conscience: Flor de Caña makes a point of advertising that it's a Fair Trade Certified and carbon-neutral product. So grab a bottle of this reasonably priced silver rum and kick back with a rum and coke. As an environmentally conscious shopper, you've earned it.

Smith & Cross

When it comes to rum and cokes, sometimes you want the rum part to have a little heft. Cola is a bold-flavored mixer, after all — at least compared to something like club soda or ginger ale. One of our favorite full-bodied rums is Smith & Cross, a Jamaican rum distilled in England. According to the brand's website, Smith & Cross has been at it for more than two centuries, dating all the way back to 1788. To this day, they keep their product cellared in underground keeps located along the River Thames.

Smith & Cross rum is all banana up front, with caramel and warming spices on the back end. It's a wonderful choice for rum and coke because the two drinks feel like they're boxing in the same weight class. This fine Jamaican rum is medium- to full-bodied with enough flavor to stand up and make itself known, while the cola's dark sweetness asserts itself nicely against the tropical fruit notes of the spirit. Smith & Cross is slightly more restrained than something like the Kraken, but it is by no means a muted or flimsy choice for your next rum and coke. 

Saison Pale

Perhaps France isn't the first country that springs to mind when someone starts talking about rum. But the Tessendier family of France's Cognac region are distillers who have been practicing their craft since the 19th century, and their Saison Pale Rum is nothing to dismiss out of hand. According to Saison's website, brothers Jérôme and Lilian Tessendier share the role of Cellar Master and produce their rum in four distinct stages, or seasons (saison is French for "season" — thus, the name).

The first stage/season is "origins," which refers to the three terroirs that the brothers Tessendier choose for their blend. According to the website, rums from Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica are chosen to be used during the next three stages of Saison rum production: aging, blending, and finishing.

The final product? Rums of exquisite poise and balance. For rum and coke, our favorite is Saison Pale, a light and floral white rum whose flavors are present yet subtle. It doesn't scream banana the way that some of the more aggressively Jamaican rums do, but it's definitely got a tropical fruit note that kicks around well in a softer style rum and coke. How do the French say "cheers" again?

Jung & Wulff

According to its parent company Sazerac's website, Jung & Wulff Luxury Rums originated way back in the 19th century when the actual people Jung and Wulff worked as early importers of Caribbean rum and sold it to drinking establishments in New Orleans. Fast forward a couple hundred years later, and the brand carries on their rum importing tradition by bringing a line of "Luxury Rums" to American drinkers. The three terroirs the brand sources from are Guyana, Barbados, and Jamaica (are you starting to see a pattern here?). For our purposes, we're going to focus only on the Barbados rum.

As far as rums go, this Jung & Wulff Barbados registers on the less boozy end of the seesaw, sitting at "only" 43% ABV. Though it's not as hot as some of the cask strength rums out there, it's still full-bodied and rich, with flavors like butterscotch and bitter chocolate playing off an ever-so-slight fruitiness. This is a bold rum that isn't afraid to take center stage in a rum and coke — make sure to dose this cocktail with a little lime juice to keep the Jung & Wulff in check.

Bacardí

We know. Another commercial rum you probably first tasted sneaking a nip out of your parent's liquor cabinet? Except...for all its popularity, Bacardí is actually great quality Puerto Rican rum that earns its spot on any home bar, and then some. The brand's portfolio of rums and ready-made mixed drinks is impressive, and we could spend all day arguing about which style of rum (and even which flavor) goes best in a rum and coke. But instead, we'll pick one and stick to it: Bacardí Gold.

This rum is nutty and toasty, with persistent flavor that never feels forceful or overbearing. The brand's website claims that the mellow character of Bacardí Gold is thanks to its aging on a secret, unique charcoal blend. We feel pretty good about this selection for a rum and coke, too, as Bacardí itself suggests choosing this particular rum for your next Cuba Libre.

If you've had the Gold and want to try some of Bacardí's other stuff, we also recommend the brand's spiced rum, which you can expect to be spicy (of course), but also to have a smoky and nutty character that bounces off the sweet herbal notes of cola. Give this one a wedge of lime or even a sprig of mint to introduce a little green pop and clean up the palate.

Gosling's Gold Seal

Gosling's Gold Seal rum is a no-brainer if you're looking to shoot straight down the middle on your next rum and coke. Gosling's as a whole is perhaps most well known for the brand's much darker and more heavy-handed Black Seal Rum. But unlike its boozy older sibling, the Gold Seal is just 40% ABV and offers a beautiful color in the glass which matches its easy drinking, mellow golden flavor. This is one of those spirits you'll sip and think: "Yeah, that tastes exactly how I expected." 

In addition to working perfectly in a finely balanced rum and coke, the Gold Seal is also a great utility tool to have at your disposal. Any home bar can benefit from a good gold rum, and this stuff is an inexpensive jackknife spirit that works as a sipping rum, shooter, or as the one-size-fits-all ingredient for most any rum cocktail. It's light enough to make do in something like a mojito, but dark enough to work well in a Mai Tai. Give it a shot — you'll be glad you did.

The Funk

Maybe it's just the cool name and groovy label talking, but when we tried The Funk rum for the first time, we were instantly in love. According to its website, The Funk is unaged Jamaican rum that checks in at 100 proof. That's slightly less than true Navy Strength, but it's nothing to sneeze at, either. The fact that it's unaged is a bit unusual: though Jamaica produces both aged and unaged rums, the country is definitely more famous for the amber-aged style. And when a cocktail recipe calls for a "Jamaican rum," that's what it's looking for. Other popular white rums from Jamaica certainly exist — looking at you, Wray and Nephew Overproof – but they aren't the norm when we're just batting the term around loosely.

The folks behind The Funk suggest that it works best in simple rum cocktails, and what's simpler than two ingredients? The Funk has a bit of a bite, thanks to its 50% ABV, but with the right craft cola and a freshly squeezed lime, you've got yourself one rollicking good rum and coke.

Wray & Nephew White Overproof

Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum is an old Jamaican standby. While white rum is not necessarily what most Americans may think when they think of Jamaican rum. But Wray & Nephew's nearly 200-year history on the island makes it as much — or perhaps more — Jamaican than many of the more modern brands sweeping the market today (via Wray & Nephew). According to the brand's website, the company was founded in the 19th century by Jamaican-born John Wray and his nephew Charles James Ward. Wray, at the time, was well known for pouring rums at the Shakespeare Tavern, a bar located next to the theater. After the success of Wray & Nephew, Ward himself would go on to become a benefactor for The Ward Theater, and the rum brand became cemented in day-to-day Jamaican culture.

The rum itself is a delightful — yet admittedly hot and boozy — addition to your next rum and coke. If you're looking to tie one on in short order, look no further than the aromatic, tropical knocker-over that is Wray & Nephew White Overproof. This stuff isn't as insanely eye-watering as a 151, but at 63% ABV, it's no slouch either. Try a half measure in your rum and coke first, then ramp it from there.

Pusser's Gunpowder Proof

"Pusser" is a linguistic alteration of "Pursuer," or the title of the fellow who would distribute a British sailor's daily ration of rum. Of course, the infamous Black Tot Day of 1970 did away with British Royal Navy rum rations (or "tots") forever (per the brand), but the memory lives on in brands like Pusser's. We turn to them when we need a rum and coke with a little backbone. The Gunpowder Proof is labeled "Admiralty Strength" — or 54.5% ABV — and packs quite a punch. Its name derives from another little tidbit of history: According to the brand's site, the Pusser would drop a bit of gunpowder into a barrel of rum and attempt to light it. If the stuff caught flame, it proved he hadn't diluted the sailors' booze with water. Thus, Gunpowder Proof.

This is a hearty rum through and through. It's deep and richly flavored, with notes of molasses, spices, and vanilla. Though this ain't your easy breezy tropical rum, it's still fairly smooth for the level of alcohol. It's a full-bodied, punch-packing spirit not afraid to make itself known in any cocktail, much less one with just a couple of ingredients. Go for the Gunpowder when you're looking for a cold-weather rum and coke, or something for sipping around the campfire. And as always, try a squirt of lime juice to balance out the stronger flavors of the booze.