Alibi V.29 No.27 • July 2-8, 2020 

Cocktail Culture

Bourbon, Coke and Peanuts

An American classic

Three great tastes that go great together.
Three great tastes that go great together.
Clarke Condé

I was sitting at the bar (as all good stories start) when a pickup truck piled with red chiles in the back pulled up out front and out popped a couple of guys in worn cowboy hats who set up a sign and started selling the stuff, fresh, roasted or powdered. My (to remain anonymous) local rockstar drinking buddy sauntered out to see what was what and returned shortly with a big bag of finely ground red chile from the southern part of this state. It was soon agreed upon that this fresh red chile was of such a caliber that we should add some to the local IPAs we were enjoying. It was an exceptional treat and reminded me of this casual temptation that arises sometimes in a variety of cultures to combine local foods with local drinks, and then simply make up a rationale for doing so.

Find yourself drinking vodka with Russians and you may end up sniffing at bread (or your sleeve on lean days). Catch the third shift (when there was such a thing) coming off work at the plant in a Rust Belt town as the sun is coming up and you may find a leftover from the previous night augmenting his Utica Club with a raw egg to keep the party going. I can’t swear to it, but I’m going to guess that this cocktail of Bourbon, Coca-Cola and peanuts came about somewhere in the American South in the same, unceremonious yet persistently laudable, way.

Bourbon whiskey is a distinctly American invention, created prior to Coca-Cola and significantly after the peanut. My recipe is simple:

4 oz. Coke

1 ½ oz. Bourbon

1 handful of peanuts

Ice

Variations abound, from the complexity of creating a peanut orgeat (a nut-based syrup) to selecting a Tennessee whiskey over a Bourbon (worth considering is the Tres Pistolas Bourbon from Broken Trail Spirits) to getting fancy with real sugar Mexican Coke in those tiny bottles. We need not stand on ceremony when creating this beverage, so feel free to interpret as you see fit on a warm summer night in Albuquerque with whatever is at hand. This is a forgiving beverage that will only be ruined if served warm.