I have been a bit hard on Eben Freeman in the past, and I just ran across a story on him, about which you’d pretty much expect me to tee up and take a rip at.
See, the reason I’ve taken shots at Eben in the past isn’t that he so richly deserves it. He doesn’t. He’s one of the Boss mixologists out there, with great feel for ingredients, a wealth of knowledge of food, cocktails, and chemistry, and an adventurous, avante garde mind. And a bit of ego. Combine all that in one man, and from time to time he’s going to take an idea, puff it up and stretch it from intelligent to ridiculous. Get ridiculous, and snarky critics like me will be there to ridicule you.
But not this time.
See, this time, Eben’s got a idea that’s both ridiculous on its face, and guaranteed to piss off a bunch of purists I could link. But I’m here to praise, not bury, because the drink sounds cool, Eben’s not puffing it or himself up, and the method is both ingenious and appropriate.
He’s shooting a finished cocktail out of a soda gun. It’s called the Waylon, and while I’ve never heard of it, he’s been making it for a while.
The Waylon is a highball, with Buffalo Trace bourbon and smoke infused Coca Cola. To produce it, Eben smoke-infuses the pure Coke syrup, then mixes in the whiskey. Add the right amount of water, and you have a mix that will likely last months. Or hours, if it’s a busy night and the drinks geeks know it’s there to be tried.
Plug in the CO2 tank and hook up the gun. Eben runs the output tube through a chilled aluminum block to produce a cocktail that is already drinking temp. I have no idea if this is something that most soda fountains do, but I doubt it. I can see the value, even though this is a rocks drink, of the chilling. There will be less, and more reliable melting, leaving a drink that is reliably strong, no matter what ice you end up using.
Yes, it uses a soda gun, but the blasted mechanism is put to good use here. The drink’s also fun, different, and not at all pretentious. OK, it’s a little pretentious, but with a wink. And if you’re on a mission to shut down all winking pretension, you’re going to have to shut down the whole craft bar industry. So piss off.
I imagine that this is a method most anyone could use themselves at home for all sorts of jiggery pokery. I’m thinking it’ll be fun with Cuba Libré variants. All you’d need is a soda siphon, which you hopefully have, and if not, shame on you. The drink won’t be pre-chilled, but some things just can’t be helped. And depending on what ingredients you play with in your own efforts, the batch should last quite a while.
The serious ingredient you’ll need is the Coke syrup itself. You could go all Darcy and make it yourself. Or you could pick up any of the scores of knockoff syrups out there for use in home soda machines, like the bottle that came with my SodaStream.
But back in the day, you could just go to your pharmacy’s antacid aisle and buy a bottle of pure, genuine Coca Cola syrup. It’s a lot harder to find today, which is a shame since it does the job on nausea. Still, here’s at least one source where you can buy small bottles of the stuff. And you can even buy five gallon bags of Essence of the Real Thing™ right from Amazon. That’s a bit much for the home mixer, I suppose.
Regardless, Eben is serving up his Waylons tonight (I believe) at a bar called Fatty Johnson’s in New York. I’ll miss out because I am here, but if you can chip your way through the ice encasing your door in New York, tell Eben I said hello, and come back and tell me how the Waylon tastes. (Via The Feast, H/T: Gizmodo)