Hey Bartender! I’ll Have a Rum and Coke

There are drinks I make at home, and drinks I order when I’m out. This is the latter kind 🥃

Published in
3 min readSep 24, 2021
What’s your go-to, top-of-mind drink order? For me it’s a classic rum and Coke! (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Picture this — it’s the before times and you’re sandwiched in a loud crowd at a packed bar. The bartender is incredibly busy and keeps moving further away from you. The bartender arches their eyebrow at you. It’s time to order something, anything, and fast. The crowd is surging, the sand is trickling through the hourglass and you gotta put in your order — what do you yell at the bartender? What’s your go-to, top-of-mind drink order in the heat of the moment?

For me, that has always been a classic rum and Coke. I was born and raised in Trinidad, where rum is part of our history, the traditional liquor of the islands. Coca Cola became the other half of this classic combination since Americans came to our shores. As Troy Patterson so eloquently said in his Slate essay on the drink, “The rum and Coke is the West Indian equivalent of the gin and tonic — a highball symbolic of empire. Rum, a liquor essential to the geometry of the Atlantic slave trade, met Coke, the consummate quaff of American capitalism.”

A good rum and Coke is both strong and sweet. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

The drink first known as the Cuba Libre is said to date back to Cuba in 1900, and there’s a signed affidavit in a vintage Bacardi advertisement that stands to prove the tale. That advertisement from 1966 described the rum and Coke as the #2 rum drink of the time. Coca Cola became available in Cuba in 1900, and by the 1920’s and 30’s, the combination became popular throughout the United States. By the time of World War II, it came to be celebrated in song. The classic calypso Rum and Coca Cola became a hit for Lord invader in 1943. The song’s original lyrics offered timely social commentary regarding the prostitution of Caribbean women by outposted military men, fueled by the popular cocktail of choice. Today Lord Invader’s calypso might primarily be known by fans of Caribbean music history, but the legacy still looms large as one of the biggest international hit songs to come from Trinidad and Tobago. Catchy calypso aside, the…



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Beauty, hair and culture writer. One of WWD's 50 Most Influential People in the Multicultural Market. Often called the Godmother of Brown Beauty Blogging!

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