The Best Whiskey to Mix With Coke

We touched on the subject briefly, but it’s time for a real discussion. What’s the best whiskey to mix with Coke? Some readers may scoff at the mere mention of mixing coca-cola and bourbon, but it’s not always a bad idea! We’ve mentioned gin and coke in the past, now let’s do whiskey.

Whiskey and Coke

Whiskey and coke is one of the more common rail drinks you might order at a casual bar. It’s a great way to aid a mediocre, affordable bar whiskey down the hatch. A lot of bourbon purists would tell you never to mix bourbon and coke, but that’s not realistic. So how do you choose the right whiskey to stir into your liquor? Consider a couple things:

1. Cost

Don’t order an expensive whiskey to mix with coke. You’ll lose a lot of the important distinguishing characteristics of the whiskey when its stirred up in the sweet cola. All the benefits of well aged whiskey go away when you really start mixing, so don’t waste your money on the high end stuff.

Having said that, you may not want the “cheapest” whiskey, either. Something young may be super hot and heavy on the ethanol, and won’t be a pleasant drink to enjoy. If all you have is the cheap stuff, coke is a great way to neutralize some of the bad parts and help you get through a bottle, but don’t go shopping for the cheapest poor just because you want to mix it with coke.

If you’re ordering Whiskey and Coke at a bar, they may offer a “house whiskey”. This is the bar’s default, and it’s what they’ll give you if you don’t specify something else. Most nicer bars have a pretty decent rail whiskey at a good price, but it’s worth asking what they offer.

2. Proof

Another consideration when picking a whiskey to mix with Cola is the bottling proof. This one is a matter of preference, mostly, but it will make a difference in your rail cocktail. The sweetness of your cola will tone down some of the heat. If you like your whiskey and coke with more “whiskey” character, then set your sights on a higher-proof bourbon, maybe somewhere between 100 Proof and 110 Proof (50-55% ABV). Lower proof bourbons will make for an easier, sweeter pour.

3. Flavor

This may or may not matter to you, but different bourbons and whiskeys do have unique flavor profiles that will affect the flavor of your whiskey and coke cocktail. Ryes will be a bit spicier, while wheated bourbons will have some more sweetness to them. If you’re looking for that Cherry Coke flavor, leaning towards the latter may be a good option.

The Best Whiskey To Mix With Coke

If you want a great whiskey cola, a few options come to mind. “Jack and Coke” is the classic pairing of Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola. Other like to use Jim Beam as a bottom shelf mixer with their cola. If you want a different spin, Jameson Irish Whiskey is also a good bet. If you want to break away from those classic pairings, we tested out a few other options. Based on price, proof, and flavor, these are our picks for the best whiskey to mix with coke:

Old Forester 100 Proof is one of the better budget bourbons to begin with. At 100 Proof, it’s got a lot of bang for the buck and touts the already loved Old Forester flavor profile. Old Forester and Coke is great match.


Old Forester Bourbon 100 Proof

Maker’s is a really winner in this pairing. Maker’s Mark and Coke works really well together thanks to the uniqueness of the Wheated Mash Bill the distillery employs. That flavor profile really brings out the cherry notes.


Maker’s Mark Bourbon
750ml

Knob Creek Small Batch is another 100 Proof option that is great when paired with your favorite cola. A similar proof and price to the Old Forester, Knob Creek has that classic, trusted flavor, so Knob Creek and Coke is a great duo. This one will be a little sweeter.


Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon
750ml

Do you have a favorite whiskey or bourbon you like to mix with your coke? Prefer Pepsi? Let us know your methods in the comments!

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