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The Chilton

A cocktail as bright and pure as the West Texas sun.

By May 2016Comments

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Photograph by Jody Horton

Texas, for better or worse, is not shy about taking credit for anything good, particularly if it involves food. A few years back, contributing editor Gary Cartwright argued in these pages that Athens could quite possibly lay claim to serving the first hamburger, in 1904. Just recently, Austin and San Antonio embroiled themselves in a fairly good-humored fracas over which city could claim the better breakfast taco. And then we have the Chilton, a bracing, lemony cocktail allegedly born of a thirsty Lubbock doctor and a country club bartender who conspired to come up with a refreshing South Plains potable. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, in an October 2, 2015, piece celebrating National Vodka Day, tried to get to the pulp of the matter but determined that the legend of Dr. Chilton and his zesty creation “remains a rumor.” The blog for the city’s CVB, on the other hand, includes the tale in its list of “Lubbock fun facts.” Lending credence to the story is the fact that the drink—vodka, lots of lemon juice, bubbly water, and a salted rim—is virtually unheard of outside West Texas. That’s too bad, because the Chilton is sunshine in a glass, a gloriously simple beverage that’s as dry (no pun intended) and unpretentious as its presumed homeland.

Makes 1
Rim a highball glass with salt, then fill with ice. Add 1 1/2 ounces of vodka and the juice of 2 lemons. Fill the glass with soda water and stir gently. Garnish with a lemon wheel or wedge.

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  • LAURI WEMMER

    I happen to be drinking a Chilton (minus the salt) as I type this out and I had to comment. It’s my “Absolute” (see what I did there) favorite hot weather, low calorie, low carb drink. Also, I was a West Texas bartender for over 10 years & the key to making a great Chilton is NOT to “gently stir” but to AGGRESSIVELY SHAKE that sucker which agitates and melds the ingredients together! Otherwise, it’s a flat drink! The latter is zesty and refreshing! Trust me! Oh, and use Absolute Citron, 1/2 lemon squeezed into glass and fresh soda water!

    • Granddad

      Could one use gin? I find vodka to be objectionable.