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Cola Highballs – So Many Possibilities

Posted by Reese on 2009-06-14 @ 08:19pm

This week’s drink of choice presented a nearly endless range of possibilities.  What cola to choose?  What recipe? What spirit?  I opted to narrow down the field a bit and focus only on the choice of spirit this time.  In doing so I had to decide on a cola and a recipe upon which to base my experimentation.  I decided on Blue Sky Cola primarily because it’s caffeine free, which works good for me.  Another plus for the Blue Sky though is that it is made with pure cane sugar which I feel gives sodas a crisper taste.  Now to the recipe.  As I mentioned in my intro post I wanted to focus on the all day drinking, summer BBQ style of highball so I went with 6 oz of cola and 2 oz of spirit for each drink.  Now some results.

Cola Highball Sampling

Bulleit Bourbon: Since Bulleit is a Rye heavy bourbon this drink was a bit spicier than some of the others, although not as spicy as the Rittenhouse.  The smoky notes are present and very tasty with the sweetness of the cola.  While this is a great drink I would choose straight rye given the choice.

Rittenhouse 100: Quite spicy from the use of the rye and yet the smoky barrel aged flavors are still there.  There was no doubt, I like this mix better than standard bourbon.  More flavors to play off each other and, not to sound too wine snobbish, an overall bigger flavor.

Eagle Rare Bourbon: A very sweet drink.  The natural sweetness of the bourbon combined with the sweetness of the cola takes it over the top for me.  While I do enjoy this drink with it’s subtle smoky flavors it’s not my favorite.

Jack Daniels: This one is a classic and understandably so.  For whiskey fans you get the mellow oak flavors coming through.  But, like the Eagle Rare, this was a bit too sweet for my taste.

Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum: The Dood wasn’t wrong with this recommendation.  Light vanilla and spice flavors from the rum come through and interestingly the resulting cocktail isn’t as sweet as I expected it would be.  This spiced rum also doesn’t have any of the weird aftertaste you get with some other spiced rums.  Definitely a solid choice if you’re a spiced rum fan.

Appleton Estate V/X: The gold rum has a more bold flavor than a white rum with more noticeable oak notes, although still fairly light.  After having tasted both light and gold rums in this drink I’d reach for the gold in the future as I feel it lends a more complex flavor to the finished drink.

Flor de Cana Extra Dry: Another solid Rum Dood suggestion.  This white rum is drier than the Bacardi which was a nice twist for me.  As I mentioned above I prefer this drink with a drier spirit so the end result isn’t overly sweet.

Bacardi White Rum: Since this rum is sweet to begin with adding it to the cola resulted in a drink that was sweeter than I like.  You do still get the pleasant molasses flavor coming through, which helps broaden the flavor.  While this drink is still pretty good it wasn’t one of my favorites.

So, now that I’ve told you about each spirit on it’s own how about a brief summary.  If you’re looking to make a whiskey based drink I’d suggest reaching for the straight rye first as it will give you a spiciness that is really great.  If you’re wanting something a bit sweeter then go for a rye heavy bourbon, such as the Bulleit I sampled.  It will give you the sweeter notes of the bourbon but still offer a nice bit of spiciness as well.

As for rum, my hands down winner was the Appleton Estate V/X gold rum.  The additional complexity of flavor with the light oak notes is definitely worth it.  Second is a tie between the Flor de Cana Extra Dry and Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum.  It really depends on the flavor profile you’re after at that point.  You really can’t go wrong with either.