50 Shots of America–Oklahoma


The countdown has now begun, folks, as we’re making our way through the final 5 in our cocktail tour of the United States we’re also just now getting to the territories that reached statehood in the twentieth century!


Sooner Twist Than Shout cocktailOOOOOOOOOk-lahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains… (C’mon, tell me that’s not the first thing you do when you hear Oklahoma. It is the state song, after all, so I guess it’s meant to be just that memorable.)

Originally the Indian Territory–home to both native settlements as well as where the displaced tribes of the southeast were packed off to via the Trail of Tears–it didn’t take long (less than 30 years) before cattle trains between Texas and Kansas began making regular runs through there and the US decided, hey, we might want that territory for our use after all. First they subdivided and shrank the Native American lands and then they just started giving the rest away to anyone who could show up at the appointed day and time of the Land Run.

In fact, that’s where the state nickname originated: a “sooner” was someone who crossed into the not-quite-available territory before the allotted time, generally to stake out the choicer claims for themselves. Sooners became known as go-getters and ambitious folk… guess it does sound better than “sneakers.”

Of course, this was all before statehood was granted (that didn’t happen until November 18, 1907).

But, hey, it’s not like the early days of the Oklahoma Territory were anything different than any other settled area we managed to grow into, right? And the way I see it, we all have our fair share of karma from those decisions. Those plains-sweeping winds can just as easily be tornadoes as they could gentle spring breezes is all I’m saying.

Sooner Twist Than Shout

1/2 oz Dry Gin
1 1/2 oz Beer
1/4 oz Lime Juice
Coffee liqueur

Combine the gin, beer and lime juice over ice in a shaker and whirl it around like a truck in a tornado. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

To add the coffee liqueur to the bottom of the glass, draw the liqueur into a straw or pipette and hold it in place, put the full end of the straw at the bottom of the glass and release. You may have to tap or bounce the straw a bit to relative gravity issues, but it’s worth it–not only for the look of the cocktail but the tiny bit of sweet coffee that finishes the drink is an amazing finish to an otherwise tart cocktail.

Like Florida, Oklahoma has got quite the panhandle going for it and their panhandle is full to the brim with pinyon pines and others of that resinous ilk. Pine makes me think gin and this time I wanted a twist (get it? do I have to explain all of my cues and puns by now? we’re on cocktail #46, here!) on the classic gin and tonic, using good old American beer instead of tonic water (OK ranks 5th in wheat production).

With oil representing such a boon to the state’s early and continued economy (they have an active oil well on the grounds of the state capitol!), I wanted to make sure it was represented in the drink, as well.

Whether you serve this with the state meal or not–yes, they have one–of barbecue pork, chicken fried steak, biscuits, sausage and gravy, fried okra, squash, corn, grits, black-eyed peas, cornbread, strawberries, and pecan pie–it’s a great drink the end a long day. Just wait until after you pull off Route 66 before consuming any alcoholic beverages–we want us all to get to state #50 in one piece.

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