Why the Chilton Is the Summer Cocktail You Need to Try

Craving something tart, cool and strong? You'll want to stir up a Chilton. This easy cocktail is a favorite in Lubbock, Texas and deserves a spot on your patio this summer.

On the Texas High Plains, summers are hot—scorching even. After spending time in the sun, you’re left craving something cold and refreshing. A homemade lemonade often hits the spot, but sometimes you need something with a bit more punch, something with a bit of fizz and a hint of vodka. That’s where the Chilton comes in—just one of the South’s many underrated (but delicious) cocktails.

What Is a Chilton?

The Chilton is Lubbock’s signature cocktail—a blend of vodka, lemon and a splash of soda. And you can’t forget the salted rim. Like a margarita, it’s optional but highly recommended.

While the drink’s origins are a bit murky, locals will tell you that the Chilton originated at a Lubbock-area country club. There, decades ago, a doctor came in from the hot sun requesting a drink that was citrusy, strong and not too sweet. What the bartender created was then called a Chilton, named for the doctor that ordered the refresher.

Since that time, the Chilton has risen to fame in Lubbock and the West Texas area. The classic formula is still the most popular, but you’ll find restaurants playing with the recipe with flavored vodkas and fruit juices.

How to Make a Chilton at Home

Making a Chilton at home is easy. Chances are you have most of the ingredients already on hand—that’s the mark of a great cocktail. Here’s what you need:

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Club soda
  • Coarse salt
  • Lemon wedge, optional, to garnish

Step 1: Prep the Glass

Traditionally the Chilton is served in a Collins glass, though you can substitute whatever you have on hand if you don’t have Collins-style glassware at home.

Begin by rimming the glass with a bit of salt—same as you would with a margarita. Swipe a lemon wedge around the rim and then roll the edge in coarse salt. Then fill the glass high with ice.

Step 2: Add Vodka and Lemon

Next, add two ounces of vodka into the glass. Choose a good vodka here. With only a few ingredients in the Chilton, the quality of the vodka will stand out.

Then add the juice of two lemons. You absolutely want to use fresh lemon juice here. It gives this easy mixed drink that bright, refreshing flavor that you’re searching for after a long day in the hot sun. Finally, top off the glass with club soda.

Step 3: Stir, Garnish and Serve

With all your ingredients in the glass, grab a cocktail spoon, and give your Chilton a stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon slice and serve.

Unlike many fruity drinks, the Chilton isn’t overly sweet. It’s tart, cool and bracing—a must for a hot day in the Texas heat or wherever you call home.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.