Itchin’ for a Bite

Rattlesnake, as served at Gilley’s in TI, $10

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As the lines between country and pop continue to blur, I’ve found myself listening to the unimaginable—country music—and rather liking it. Taylor Swift is the gateway drug, it turns out, as is Keith Urban and pretty much anyone who looks like him in a tight T-shirt and Levis. God bless ’merica!

The gateway now being open, I find myself, a whiskey-something-or-other in hand, contemplating the complimentary line-dancing lessons Gilley’s offers Sunday-Thursday. Soothing the cultural immersion is the Rattlesnake cocktail, more than just spiked lemonade. Before the lemon sour, sweetener and whiskey do the deed, the barman rinses the glass with a little anise—well, ain’t that a fancy, big-city detail!—then a few dashes of rhubarb bitters take the lemon’s juicy allure to a more complex place.

You get the rhubarb aroma from the start, a hint of herbal anise on the finish, and the wallop of Jim Beam’s latest gift to good ol’ boys and gals throughout: a 90-proof whiskey, some of which was extracted right from the barrel wood—the so-called “devil’s cut” ($22, Total Wine & More, If you’d been trapped in a barrel for years, you’d be thirsty, too.

Rinse a pint glass with anise (pour in half an ounce, swirl it around to coat the interior of the glass, and spill it out). Add 2 ounces Jim Beam Devil’s Cut whiskey, 1 ounce simple syrup, fill with fresh lemon sour (about 1 ounce) and add 3-4 dashes of Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters. Add ice, cover, shake and garnish with a freshly cut lemon wheel.