A great whiskey and Coke is a fantastic highball. A mediocre whiskey and Coke is just a sugar bomb with some booze thrown in. As with any cocktail, the better your base ingredients, the better your end result. I get it, that sounds kind of dumb at first, especially if you’re burying something in Coca-Cola. But bear with me, if you use a big, bold, and bombastic whisk(e)y, you’ll elevate even the humble whiskey and Coke to new heights.
Before you laugh, let me explain. The Smoky Cokey was devised by Diageo’s (Lagavulin’s parent company) global brand ambassadors as an evolution of the simple highball. Their train of thought was “Hey, people have been putting whisky in Coke since Coke started. So why not make it, you know, good?” They hit solid gold.
By adding Lagavulin 16 to a pretty sweet and spicy Coca-Cola, you’re adding a layer of bitter smoke, soft umami, and fruitiness that blends beautifully with the cola to create something more than the individual parts. Look at it this way, both Lagavulin 16 and Coke have very big flavor profiles so you need something that can stand up to each one. And it just so happens that these two ingredients are a perfect dyad.
Let’s get into the recipe!
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- 2 oz. Lagavulin 16
- 5 oz. Classic Coca-Cola
- 1/4 Lemon wheel for garnish
There’s a lot of variation you can play with here once you get a taste for the original Smoky Cokey. I’ve used Ardbeg 10, Talisker 10, and even Lagavulin 8, but none of them quite hit the same perfect balance as Lagavulin 16.
As for the cola, “coke” is in the name so go with that. That said, I’ve made these with Jarritos Mexican Cola and Fever-Tree Madagascan Cola too. The Jarritos is a little too sweet and the Fever-Tree a little vanilla-forward for me, but they totally work too.
What You’ll Need:
- Highball glass
- Paring Knife
- Fill the highball glass with ice.
- Add the whisky and top with Coke.
- Cut a lemon wheel into quarters and place one on the ice. Serve.
This is a perfect highball. The rich and savory smoke adds this beautiful counterpoint to the sweet and spicy Coke. It flows. It takes you on a journey. It’s delicious. There’s a layer of soft malts that come through under the cola as well with a hint of anise and soft wood.
If you’re still not convinced, I can assure you this isn’t a one-off or an anomaly. These are enjoyed at the Lagavulin Distillery on Islay by the people who make the whisky. If that’s not enough to get you interested, try this: The combination is becoming so popular that some bars have them on tap in Scotland and Ireland. The fact is, no matter how much of an abomination it sounds like to mix a nearly $100 bottle of finely made peated Islay scotch with Coca-Cola, it might just be the best way to drink it.