What We're Drinking: The Papaw

What We're Drinking: The Papaw

What We're Drinking: The Papaw 

A Drink Recipe From Motorcycle Enthusiast And Model Leticia Cline.

 


WORDS Leticia Cline  IMAGE Norma Molina


 

Liquor is in my blood, but not as in “blood alcohol level" but more like, I come from a long line of moonshiners". Being born and raised in Kentucky meant I was schooled early on in the importance of distilling, distributing, and drinking everything — whiskey, moonshine, and, of course, bourbon. Believe me when I say people in the South take their drinking very seriously. We not only use it to celebrate the good times and forget the bad ones, but it's also a remedy. From cough syrups to candies and disinfectants, there’s not much we don’t use liquor for.

My summers growing up were spent either on a dirt bike or on a bulldozer at my grandfather’s farm. At lunchtime, I would watch my Papaw open a glass bottle of Coke, take a few sips, and then tear open a bag of salted peanuts and pour them into the bottle. I never thought it was strange since that was the only way I knew how to eat peanuts, but as time passed and I started traveling and trying new things, I soon forgot all about that salty, sweet, fizzy, liquid snack.

That is until I turned 28 and moved to Manhattan. I found myself in a city of seven million people but knowing none of them. I decided the best way to meet people was by slinging drinks in a classy Upper East Side restaurant. This wasn’t your run of the mill “Jack and Coke” bar; these were the upper echelons of Manhattanites who would never be caught dead drinking anything other than a classic or a new twist on a classic. As head bartender, I was faced with the challenge of creating new cocktails for the menu, and I was at a loss. 

One afternoon, an old timer I knew only as “Goodtime Mickey” decided to take a seat at my bar. Mick was a retired truck driver who parlayed his hard work into the city's largest taxicab medallion holder, a venture which made him millions even though you never would have known by looking at him. 



We bonded over our love of a good stiff drink and collecting vintage motorcycles. Over the next couple of months, Mickey would come in and share photos of his latest build and try my newest concoctions. He never liked any of them. He was honest like that. It wasn’t until he told me a story about how he would spend summers helping his dad on construction sites drinking their lunches by pouring peanuts into Coke bottles that I got the idea to create a cocktail from it.

I started researching the history of the drink, and the more I learned, the more it made sense. I learned, sadly, that I wasn’t the first to add bourbon to it, but the positive news was that there wasn’t a bar in NYC at the time that served it, so I had to make it.

Recipe:

Mix 2 oz of bourbon (Bulleit)
salty (or spicy) peanuts
an 8 oz glass bottle of Mexican Coca Cola
Drink a bit of the cola and then toss the other ingredients right into the bottle

 
I converted a lot of snobby, pinkie-out Manhattan drinkers into blue-collar, American-as-fuck-cheerers.



I called it “The Papaw” after my grandfather as it just made sense. I travel, I work on my bikes, I grew up on bourbon and Coke, and I’m a sucker for some real American Southern historical shit.

A few years later, I moved away from the city, and over time, I lost touch with Goodtime Mickey, but every now and then when I order a “Papaw", I say a little cheers to Mickey and my grandfather. So, while some people may drink to forget, I drink to remember.


Leticiacline.com

 

 This article was originally featured in Issue 016 of Iron & Air Magazine.


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