Meet Waylon


I cut my teeth (my liver?) on bourbon and Coke. It was my adolescent drink of choice, the drink that fueled my first college drunk, the drink I spilled on my dates at University of Georgia football games.

When I gave up on college, in the 1980s, I gave up on bourbon and Coke. Too sweet. Too much a reminder of indiscretions past. I never thought I would backslide, never thought I would take up a tumbler of the stuff again.

That was before I met Waylon. As in the late Waylon Jennings, the craggy-faced champion of outlaw country music, the writer and singer of the Dukes of Hazzard theme. As in, by extension, a drink served at Tailor, Sam Mason’s new restaurant (and Eben Freeman’s new bar) on Broome Street in NYC.

The menu says a Waylon is made with bourbon and smoked Coke. (Insert freebasing joke here.) Although a NYT dispatch by my friend Jonathan Miles suggests that liquid smoke is good enough, my gullet (and quick conversations with bartenders and in-the-know-patrons) confirms that smoked Coke is what happens when a curious barman conjures the natural affinities between barbecue and bourbon and cross-references the smoky, whiskey-and-cigarettes voice for which Waylon was fabled.

The drink is great. Stupefyingly, playfully great. Look for it to be the most fetishized, most written about cocktail of the fall. And, for the record, word has it that you get smoked Coke by sliding a hotel pan of Coca-Cola syrup into a barbecue pit stoked with smoldering hardwoods. Carbonation and bourbon follow in due course.

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