Rum Coke Revolution

Some notes on the defining drink of a generation

Rum Coke was the defining drink of a generation: the large group of '70s and '80s babies who grew up and started drinking in the late '90s through the millennium. Whether you were at a house party surrounded by underage drinkers, using it as a chaser in Cocomangas Boracay (when the bar still had a beach front), or dancing the night away to loud music in a long list of favorite, now defunct, bars and clubs (Citron Rouge, Orange, Venetia, V, V Bar, Pravda, San Mig, Whereelse, Common Ground, Sambo’s, Mustang, the list goes on…), it was everywhere, and more likely than not, your brand of (default) choice was the Tanduay.

My first experience with Tanduay wasn’t as rebellious as I would have liked it to be. Like many others, at the ripe age of 14, I went to an oh-so-convenient store to grab a bottle of Tanduay Dark Rum (yes, the massive bottle), snuck into an alley and took a swig of amber-colored liquid and was shocked by the potency of it. I didn’t understand why people would subject themselves to straight rum, and in truth, I still don’t.

So the obvious choice was to imitate the famous Cuba Libre, a drink well-aged by then, invented in the times where cocaine was still found in Coca-Cola and when authentic Cuban Rum was still allowed to be imported into the States (before they became political nemeses, circa 1901). But we decided to forgo the limes, take some light-colored rum (usually the darker Caribbean rums are preferred) and splash in some cold Coke and fill up the glass with ice. This was the birth of a boring drink, which grew the popularity of the brand and was the godfather of many hangovers.


Tanduay, rumors aside (it will turn to plastic if left in the sun?), is actually one of the most popular brands in the world (just behind Bacardi), and even though its dark rum product is only really good for mixing, its more selective vintages are starting to gain a little following from connoisseurs in Europe and North America. Here is an example of something that makes sense: we have abundant resources of sugar cane, so we’ve been producing quality rum for over 150 years now. Let’s not discuss the other by-products, lest you want me to get depressed (Tanduay Ice, Boracay Rum...).



  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1/2 tsp superfine sugar
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice


  • 1 1/2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 small orange juice
  • 1 tsp dark rum

Rum and Coconut Water

  • 2 oz golden rum
  • 2 to 4 oz coconut water

Sano Grog

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 tsp super-fine sugar
  • 1 thin wheel of lemon
  • 3 or 4 oz of boiling water

Jubal Early Punch

  • 1 cup super-fine sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 quart and 1 cup water
  • 4 oz dark rum
  • 1 1/2 cups brandy
  • 1 bottle Brut champagne


Following in this tradition, there has been a lot of noise around  Don Papa. A small batch rum created in Negros by The Bleeding Heart Rum Company, it answers the prayers of many local mixologists. We finally have the beginning of our own rum revolution (hint, reference to Cuba above) and I hope that as every year goes by I’ll be able to write about more and more new, up-and-coming artisanal alcohols.

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White Rum 

Has an almost fruity and molasses quality to it. Great for mixing light cocktails.

Gold Rum 

Usually a little bit more rounded, depending on the brand. Used mostly in punch recipes; this would be your go-to Rum Coke component. This can vary from light to dark.

Spiced Rum 

Choose your spiced rum properly. Usually it’ll be sweeter and easier to drink than the original. Use them for simple cocktails (with one mixer only).

Aged Rum 

These can be especially complex and can either be sipped (slowly) or used in cocktails where the aging process won’t be lost on the taste buds (Mai Tais, for example).

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Erwan Heussaff
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