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Strange History of Rum and Coke

Supposedly according to legend the first time coke met rum with a touch of lime was in a Havana, Cuba bar during the Spanish-American War. At that time this drink became known as the Cuba Libre. Four decades later, after another war and an unusual pop song, this drink became popular in the U.S.

German submarines were threatening ships along the South America coast in 1940. Therefore Franklin Roosevelt made a deal with Winston Churchill to build large U.S. military bases on British-controlled Caribbean islands among them Trinidad.

Once these military bases were set up there were many cases of Coke sent to them. When WW II began the Coca-Cola Company made a promise to servicemen and women that they would never have to pay more than a nickel or 5 cents for a bottle of Coke. They also set up bottling operations wherever people served so that the supplies would never run out.

When 130,000 troops arrived in Trinidad the local population of 400,000 greatly felt the presence of the troops. Soon people were noticing how American soldiers acted around Trinidadian women and the island musician Lord Invader created the lyrics to a popular Calypso song about a young woman abandoned to sexual pleasures. The lyrics are as follows:

They buy rum and Coca-Cola,Go down Point KoomhanaBoth mother and daughterWorkin’ for the Yankee dollar

When comic musician Morey Amsterdam arrived there with a USO Tour he heard the song “Rum and Coca-Cola” and brought it back to the U.S. The Andrews Sisters made the song popular in 1944 although the lyrics were changed a bit. The song became a big hit and wound up on the Billboard charts for a whole ten weeks. Pretty soon rum and coke became the drink of the troops.


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