Coke is misused as a mixer. While we often employ it as a cheap, sweet vehicle for carrying bottom-shelf rum or whiskey, cola is better-suited for pairing with less powerful alcohols. In a Diesel, it can bring life to a dull lager; in the Calimocho, it covers up the inadequacies of a seriously cheap wine.
First, the Calimocho. Also known as Kalimotxo or Cocavino, the drink is usually made using a simple one-to-one mixture of Coke and cheap red wine. It's thought to have been created at a festival in Algorta, Spain, in 1972, when some young entrepreneurs discovered something was horribly amiss with the wine they intended to sell. They added Coke to mask the rancid flavor, and the drink became an improbable success.
Calimocho is now the unofficial national drink of young partiers in the Basque region of Spain. The teenagers, poor but resourceful, often mix the wine and Coke by pouring the bottles into a plastic grocery bag for pouring out at botellones -- makeshift parties held in parks and other public spaces.
The drink tastes like less-sweet sangria -- the wine cuts the sweetness of the cola, while the cola adds carbonated zing to the wine. To make it yourself, simply grab a glass with ice, fill it half-full with Coke and top with some dry, inexpensive red wine. No plastic bags required.
Germany has a similar cola cocktail, though its makes use of the national beverage: beer. When a lager is mixed with cola, it's is called a Diesel, Colabier or Gespritzter. Names differ depending on what you put into it: Hefeweizen and cola is a Colaweizen; Weißbier and cola is a Flieger; stout or porter and cola is a Brummbär. In each, the citrus, vanilla, and sugars of the cola add interesting new dimensions, flavors and textures to the beer. It's not for everyone, but worth a try if you're looking for something new from your brew.