The Absolute Best Ways To Drink A Coca-Cola

Few beverages represent good times and great refreshment like Coca-Cola. A frosty can of Coke can be so uplifting that ads once featured a jingle that prompted viewers to "have a Coke and a smile." The world's best-selling cola has become synonymous with enjoyment, which has a little to do with marketing and a whole lot to do with the secret Coca-Cola formula. For so many soda drinkers, the magical blend of tingle and taste is a one-of-a-kind experience no other soda can seem to match.

Though drinking Coke may be a singular sensation that brings joy around the globe, there's no question that the king of colas can take on slightly different taste profiles depending on how you drink it. Experts may insist the formula is the same, but Coke drinkers know the experience is not. Canned Coke tastes different than bottled Coke, and both taste different from soda fountain Coke. Even the temperature can have an impact. So what's the best way to drink a Coca-Cola to make sure you get the best flavor bang for your soda buck? People may have different opinions on this question, but we tried to objectively determine the best Coke-drinking experiences. Read on and learn how each variation rates to decide how you should approach your Coca-Cola enjoyment.

11. In plastic bottles

Oh, plastic; that fickle, fantastic marvel of 20th-century innovation. While plastic has many impressive qualities, it's also loaded with some serious drawbacks. It's not just that our oceans are filled with it and will be for generations to come. It's also a semi-permeable substance that lets precious carbon dioxide escape in small but noticeable amounts from fresh Coca-Cola packaged in plastic bottles. The Coca-Cola Company insists on using it to bottle its beverages, according to the BBC. Even more galling, it blames us, the consumer, for this choice, saying customers love plastic bottles. This ongoing love affair with plastic helps make this mega-corp the biggest plastic polluter in the world, according to audits performed by the environmental group Break Free From Plastic. Add the environmental cost to the compromised flavor and you get a double-dose of disappointment when it comes to trying to enjoy your Coke in its best version.

Per, in an effort to stop carbon dioxide seepage, plastic soft drink bottles are lined with a chemical called acetaldehyde. This sealant can affect the taste of the liquid, which is just another strike against the plastic bottle as a vessel for one of food science's most delightful creations. So hooray for the shakable-yet-unbreakable polymer that lets us drop our Coke without losing a drop, but the compromise in flavor is a noticeable let-down that can sink the Coca-Cola experience to the murky depths of soft drink dissatisfaction.

10. As a Slurpee

Coca-Cola was one of the first-ever Slurpee flavors sold at 7-Eleven convenience stores. Introduced in 1966, this slushy treat combined the texture of a frozen treat with the classic flavor of America's favorite soft drink. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the Slurpee itself was an offshoot of the ICEE, which was a solution that arose in 1950 after a broken soda fountain forced Dairy Queen owner Omar Knedlik to improvise with frozen soft drinks. The results are another American original, one that's worked its way into the frozen brains of Coke lovers and 7-Eleven shoppers for generations.

Being an original doesn't mean it's an automatic winner when it comes to full-bodied enjoyment of Coke, however. Though adored for its refreshing super-frosty texture and the thoroughly enjoyable and inevitable slurping sounds made while drinking one, the taste of a Coca-Cola Slurpee is disheartening. The bold cola goodness you know and love dilutes in the presence of so much air and ice. Even in its melted form, the thinned-down syrup doesn't hit the Coke bullseye. So while it's a fun nostalgic treat, especially on a sweltering summer's day, a Coca-Cola Slurpee is only a so-so way to enjoy the king of colas. Other flavors of Slurpee are more flavorful, and other forms of Coca-Cola deliver more of the classic soda taste you crave.

9. In a Mexican glass bottle

Mexican Coke is known to have a distinctive taste, different from its American counterpart due to the use of cane sugar in the recipe instead of corn syrup. Mexican Coca-Cola also retains its curvaceous glass bottle rather than the plastic bottles American Coke bottlers use so frequently. The result is sometimes perceived as a fresher flavor due to the less-processed sweetener in the Mexican recipe, though in blind taste tests, it either comes out tied with American Coke or actually loses.

Because Coke in glass bottles all but disappeared from American shelves for a time, the old-fashioned feel of Mexican Coke in a bottle may have something to do with the overall appeal, a psychological trick that makes drinkers think Mexican Coke tastes better. This nostalgia, in addition to economic factors, has driven the company to experiment with a return to the refillable glass bottles of yore according to Reuters. It certainly doesn't hurt from a marketing standpoint to bring back an aspect of a beloved favorite that heightens the enjoyment. As for the actual taste of Mexican Coke, though the ingredients are more natural, your preference may come down to familiarity. The flavors we favor are the ones we know best.

8. Poured over pellet ice

Pellet ice, also known as "the good ice", is the crushed, slushy, easy-to-chew ice that seems to sigh with wonder and gently melt a little as Coca-Cola is being poured over it. It's the distinctive calling card of Sonic Drive-Ins, though you can find it at some other restaurants too. The foam that results from serving Coke with pellet ice is a fun interactive touch that heightens the sensory experience, like molecular gastronomy for soft drinks. Sure, the ice melts faster in pellet form than in cube form, which means you risk watering down your drink. But from another perspective, pouring Coke over pellet ice is like lighting the fuse on a delicious bomb that you're obliged to drink as quickly as possible to avoid the ensuing dilution.

If all of this mushing and gushing over ice in pebble form seems like a lot, it's because fans of pellet ice know the goodness it adds to their Coca-Cola enjoyment. It's like drinking flavored, carbonated snow blessed by the cola gods. For soda lovers who like to chew their ice as they drink for the frosty ASMR enjoyment it brings, pellet ice is exponentially more chewable than standard cubes.

7. In an American glass bottle

The distinctive contours of a classic Coca-Cola bottle are unmistakable, an indelible form that recalls a time when simple refreshment was just a popped top away. The iconic hourglass shape of the bottle has a story all its own, a rich history that makes it as familiar an American image as you'll find, and the distinctive color has become known as Coke Bottle Green. So enjoying an ice-cold American Coca-Cola in a glass bottle is a peak experience for soda lovers, especially those who remember when glass bottles were the only vessel their favorite beverage came in.

Though Coca-Cola retired the classic 6.5-ounce glass bottle in 2012, the 8-ounce bottles remain on shelves (via CBS News). As for the flavor of American Coke in glass bottles, though the original formula included real sugar, the modern iteration uses the same corn syrup concoction found in all other American versions of Coca-Cola. Glass bottles trump plastic for flavor, and if you're hoping to look cool holding a soda, nothing helps that happen quite like an old-fashioned Coke in the original packaging, even if the taste is something less than vintage. As we mentioned above, American Coke has the edge in blind taste tests, so that's why it wins the glass bottle battle over Mexican Coke.

6. In cans

When it comes to convenience, canned Coca-Cola is the real deal. It's sized and shaped to deliver the perfect 12-ounce serving, or 7.5 ounces if you favor the adorable mini-cans. And as an environmental powerhouse, aluminum is one of the easiest packaging materials to recycle, as the Coca-Cola company takes great pride in explaining on its website. So as far as enjoying Coke with a guilt-free conscience, cans are a better option than plastic bottles.

When it comes to flavor, many drinkers prefer canned Coke, for reasons ranging from the crispness to the absence of strange aftertastes that appear when Coke comes in plastic bottles, as the Huffington Post found in an unscientific yet highly revealing taste test. There are more academic reasons for why canned Coke fares as a favorite among flavor fiends. As Slate uncovered, plastic bottles tend to leak carbon dioxide, the very substance that makes fizzy drinks so refreshing. Aluminum cans hold their, erm, gas better, preserving the sparkle that's so essential to an enjoyable Coca-Cola experience. They also ensure that rewarding blast when you pop the tab, the satisfying sonic signal that tells everyone within earshot that something wonderful is about to happen. The only knock on aluminum cans is that some people think they lend soda a slightly metallic flavor, but you may or may not be able to perceive this aftertaste.

5. As a cocktail mixer

According to The American Scholar, soldiers discovered rum and Coke in World War II, though some stories date the beverage to 1900 or earlier. No matter when it began, the rum and Coke has long been a go-to beverage for novice drinkers, a sweet blend of sugary flavors that covers the sting of the alcohol with the sizzle of Coca-Cola. Add a squeeze of lime for a Cuba Libre, which, as its name would suggest, was invented in Cuba. Sadly, it's unavailable in the country now, as Coca-Cola isn't legally allowed to be sold in Cuba (at least officially). Coca-Cola and Jack Daniels are such a popular pairing that the companies teamed up to create a canned version of the beverage that helps fans enjoy their favorite sips in the most convenient way possible.

In 2019, the Coca-Cola Company joined the mixology game with a collection of Coke-based beverage mixers. These enticing UK-based stir-ins include herbal, smoky, woody, and spicy profiles, keenly designed by professional bartenders to complement dark spirits. Until the rest of the world catches up, a splash of rum in an icy glass of original Coke is a fantastic way to enjoy Coca-Cola in a more sophisticated manner than just chugging it raw from the can.

4. Over Coke ice cubes

Everyone knows the peril of letting the ice in your glass of Coke go watery. The resulting mess is a glass full of sadness nothing can salvage. There's a genius method for avoiding the disappointment of diluted Coke, a solution so simple yet so effective that it deserves some sort of kitchen award for its brilliance. All it takes is pouring Coca-Cola into an ice cube tray and creating Coke ice cubes (via FoodsGuy). Rather than stealing away the flavor like regular ice cubes will, these frosty gems only add more Coke to the mix as they melt. You get a slow-flowing refill on your drink, which stays sweet and spectacular to the last drop.

For a more stylized take on Coke cubes for your mixed drinks, you can use block or sphere cube molds to form your soda-fied ice. These variations add an artful touch to your Cuba Libres and boozy Coke floats whenever you're serving friends or just feeling a little highbrow with your beverage enjoyment. And if cubes of any shape aren't your style, throw them in a blender to make a Coca-Cola crushed ice that melts quickly to add an instant arctic chill to your glass.

3. In an ice cream float

The marriage of soda and ice cream in that little piece of drugstore history known as the ice cream float is an inspired union, a match made in heaven that everyone on Earth can partake in. 

While root beer floats may be the most familiar flavor, Coke floats are just as enticing. If you're not a fan of the assertive taste of root beer, you might even think Coke floats are superior. Toss a few scoops of your favorite vanilla ice cream in a frosty mug and pour over a cold can or glass bottle of Coca-Cola and watch the foam rise to the top for a timeless summer treat. Or try chocolate ice cream and a blast of whipped cream and a cherry on top to maximize the sweet, syrupy synergy. It's a creamy, sudsy, vanilla-and-Coke concoction that makes everyone feel like a kid again.

2. As a homemade slush

If you've never made a Coca-Cola slush in your home freezer, have you ever even lived? It's the easiest way to transform a simple bottle of Coke into an icy treat that leaves Coca-Cola Slurpees in the dust ... or snow, as it were. This food hack almost looks like a magic trick because it instantly transforms liquid Coke into a frozen heat-beating treat (via Wonder How To). Thanks to supercooling, a sweet phenomenon that freezes liquids without turning them fully solid, you can turn a bottle of Coca-Cola into a polar pleasure in the comfort of your own home.

This life hack is a culinary trick that results in a refreshing beverage treat you can have any time you want. This is the simple process: First, place a bottle of Coke in the freezer for a little over three hours. You want it to be incredibly cold, but not for it to be frozen solid. Remove it from the freezer, quickly twist the cap to let out some air, then reseal and flip the bottle over. The fluid Coca-Cola will transform into sugary slush before your eyes. It's as tasty a home kitchen science experiment as you'll find, and it can be done whenever the urge for a chilly Coke-centered beverage treat strikes. Just keep a bottle or two on hand at all times. This works best with plastic bottles, as glass bottles might break in the freezer.

1. As a fountain drink

The crisp sensation of fountain-poured Coca-Cola is the pinnacle of all soft drink experiences. The freshness of the carbon dioxide-infused water blending with actual syrup to create a custom, never-before-blended Coke at your command means you're getting the sweet stuff straight from the source. There's no weird plastic bottle taste or exploding cans, and more importantly, no sitting in a warehouse for weeks waiting to be shipped to your local grocer.

Although soda fountain Coca-Cola sits at the pinnacle of the soft drink experience, flavors can vary from fountain to fountain. Some fountains don't always serve up a delicious cup. You probably know which restaurants near you have poorly-maintained soda machines that dispense flat or funky Coke.

The business that wins for taking the most care with its Coke offerings by far is McDonald's. Per Reader's Digest, the fast-food colossus keeps its syrup in stainless-steel tanks rather than the plastic bags used by other chains. It also keeps its syrup chilled and delivers it to the fountains in insulated tubes. Add to these thoughtful considerations the fact that McDonald's extra-wide straws can actually enhance the soda's flavor and you have a formula for success that no one can best. The result is one of the freshest, most enjoyable Coca-Cola experiences you can have.