The History of Rum and Coke

Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of rum…and Coke! Legend has it that the first time Coke touched rum was in Havana, Cuba during the Spanish-American War. It was said to have been served with lime and called a Cuba Libra.

Rum and Coke didn’t become popular in the United States until about 40 years later during WWII. What happened was that a collection of large military bases were built in the Caribbean islands, including Trinidad, in retaliation to the German submarines that were becoming a menace in the waterways along the South American Coast.

Of course, what’s more American than apple pie, baseball and Coca-Cola? So, when the war began, the Coca-Cola company made a promise to American service men and women that they would never pay more than a nickel for a bottle of Coke. The company made good on that promise, and cases upon cases were sent to the troops over in the Caribbean.

Ah, but the story becomes even more interesting and amusing. After a bit, a song called “Rum and Coca-Cola” was written by a Trinidadian musician. It included lyrics about American soldiers treating certain women in Trinidad to rum and Coke. A comedic musician from the United States heard it on a USO tour and brought it back to the United States. The Andrew sisters changed the lyrics to create a more – shall we say – mild version of the song in 1944. When that song became a hit in America, so did rum and Coke!