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Taste Test: The Best Brands Of Rum For Making Rum & Coke

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Damon Dahlen
Damon Dahlen

People don't order a rum and Coke looking for a fine cocktail experience -- most rum and Cokes are ordered at college bars or weddings. You won't find them at the trending cocktail bars in NYC or LA. They aren't taken seriously like the Sazerac or Negroni. And they're hardly ever ordered by anyone who cares about what they drink. Rum and Cokes are consider the dregs of mixed drinks -- and this is not okay.

NPR's The Salt recently declared a rum renaissance, and we're going to ride that wave to bring back the rum and Coke. Its sad reputation is wholly underserved and it's time to right that wrong. Rum and Cokes are great if treated right. They've just been given the bottle shelf treatment for far too long, which has sullied their image.

To get this point across, we did what we always do: organize a taste test. We blind tasted six different rum and Cokes, using good old Coca Cola for each of them, but mixing up the rum selection -- from bottom shelf rum (Calypso) to THE popular rum choice for rum and Cokes (Bacardi) to top shelf sipping rum and a few in between. The rums we tested were from all different countries and of all different styles. (We let the experts at the liquor store help us with the rum lineup.) The results proved interesting.

First, we learned that high end rum does not make a better rum and Coke. The nuances in expensive rums are often masked (and sometimes altered) by the Coke, rendering it useless. Also, bottom shelf always tastes like bottom shelf -- it's somewhere in between that had the best results. Second, we found that many rums add their own unique flavor notes, like coconut or vanilla, that made the rum and Coke a different drink entirely. And third, we learned that bottom shelf rum is giving rum and Cokes a terrible name. Find out which rums make the best rum and Coke, and give this classic drink another go.

Please note: as always, this taste test was not in any way sponsored or supported by the companies which produce the rums we're tasting.

  • 6
    WORST: Bacardi Gold -- $19.99
    "Is there rubbing alcohol in here?" "Peaty? Gross!" "A little more bitter than the others." "Reminds me off a bad college night."
  • 5
    Brugal -- $22.99
    "Where's the rum?" "Just weird." "Little to no rum taste." "Just tastes like Coke.""Tastes like flat soda."
  • 4
    Calypso -- $13.99
    "Tastes like candy for 20 somethings." "Sweet smell, syrupy, bubble gum-esque." "What I'd imagine a rum-flavored candy to taste like." "BUBBLE GUM.""Lots of bubble gum flavor." "Tastes like a Coke float."
  • 3
    Mount Gay Extra Old -- $47.99
    "Strong coconut flavor." "Smells much boozier than the others." "Sweet with strong coconut notes." "Strong." "Tasty."
  • 2
    Appleton -- $36.99
    "Okay, smoky and all those nice things." "Nice, subtle rum taste." "Great smell!"
  • 1
    Zaya -- $31.99
    "This tastes like a Vanilla Coke, with rum in it. I just realized rum and Coke should always have vanilla." "It's like a soda float cocktail. AMAZING." "Strong!"

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