The Old Fashioned

Have you ever gone to a really hip bar and not known what to order? Have you ever thought that everyone else’s drinks are cooler than the lame rum and coke you got because you couldn’t think of anything else to say when the bartender told you it was your turn? Fear those bland drinks no more! The Old Fashioned is the solution to your boring drink problem. It has something for everyone one: straight bourbon for the manly man, a touch of sugar for the ladies, and some fruit thrown in if you need a snack after downing this cocktail of cocktails.

There’s something suave and sophisticated about handling this vintage masterpiece of a cocktail. Born out of the original recipe for cocktails created in the 1800s: a simple mixture of spirit, bitters, water and sugar; the Old Fashioned is a must-know for anyone wishing to join today’s cocktail elite. But be wary of ordering the Old Fashioned in just any old bar. No one serves it the same way, and without first knowing what this drink should taste like, you may find yourself being served an atrocity in a glass if you order it at the wrong establishment. I suggest you try making this cocktail on your own first, so you know what it’s supposed to taste like, and then venturing out into your local spectrum of watering holes to find out how your creation compares to others…here’s how I make mine…

Let’s start with ingredients:

Bourbon Whiskey (Use Maker’s Mark or Jim Beam as a start)
Simple Syrup (You can grab a bottle of this at Williams-Sonoma or make your own by boiling and then cooling a 1 to 1 mixture of granulated sugar and water)
Angostura Bitters (Pick this up at your local grocery store in the drink mixer section)
3 Maraschino Cherries
1 Orange Peel

The Ingredients

Start with an old-fashioned glass.  Coat the bottom of the glass with the simple syrup (this should be done to your liking…the more simple syrup, the sweeter the drink…I usually just pour slowly until the bottom of the glass is covered).  Add 2-3 dashes of the Angostura bitters.

Now place the cherries at the bottom of the glass and work them softly with a muddler until they’re broken up enough to infuse into the rest of the liquid (take it easy, this shouldn’t take but one pressing of each cherry, and you don’t want to end up with the remnants of obliterated cherries at the bottom of your glass).  If you don’t have a muddler just use a fork or toothpick to break into the cherries.

Gently muddle the cherries

Now coat the bottom of the glass with bourbon until the cherries are submerged (should only be about a 1/2 inch of liquid).  Stir the mixture briefly. 

Add a little bourbon to the mix

Fill the glass to the top with ice (you can even build the ice over the top of the rim since the the cubes will immediately break down once you start the bourbon pour). 

Add the ice

Pour the bourbon over the ice until the liquid comes to within about a 1/2 inch of the top of the glass (be sure to hit every ice cube resting on the top of the glass with your pour…this helps to bring the ice down into the glass).  Drop the orange peel into the glass.

The Old Fashioned

Notice that I don’t give any real measurements in this recipe.  The key in making this cocktail is to work with the glass that you have, and build the cocktail from the bottom of the glass up. Enjoy your Old Fashioned, and welcome to the world of classic cocktails.

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4 Responses to “The Old Fashioned”

  1. jj says:

    great start! I like the no measurement/work within the glass approach. You may want to do a post on the different types of glasses and an overview of the different types of spirits out there.

  2. Dave says:

    I asked for an old fashioned at a wedding reception once and the bartender put whiskey over ice in a glass with an orange slice and gave me a stick of rock candy to stir it with. He didn’t even have simple syrup, but of course he had rock candy. Needless to say it was delicious, but not what I thought to be an old fashioned.

  3. MikeQ says:

    I’ve enjoyed making these. I think most of the recipes I’ve seen (which of course all claim to be the ‘original’ Old Fashioned) generally swap the fruit though. They use the muddler to press the oils out of the orange peel on the bottom of the glass prior to adding ice and bourbon, while simply garnishing the drink with whole maraschino cherries.

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