I recently posted about the Sazerac, arguably the America’s (and the world’s) first cocktail. In this post, I will discuss the competitor for the title: The Old Fashioned.
If you look at the recipes, The Old Fashioned and The Sazerac are remarkably similar, almost sister cocktails as Charleston and Savannah are sister cities, but to paraphrase John Berendt in his delightful true-crime travelogue, Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, they are sisters who do not speak.
The Old Fashioned was created at the beginning of the 19th century and was made with a combination of sugar, bitters, whiskey or brandy, and water. Over the years, citrus peel, and often, a maraschino cherry have been added to the mix, and today, The Old Fashioned is made almost exclusively with whiskey.
To make a Common Old Fashioned, you muddle a sugar cube (some lazy people may use simple syrup, but this is just wrong. Use a cube. Preferably a rough cut French lump, but C&H will suffice) in a glass with Angostura Bitters (to taste) and a piece of orange peel (lemon was originally used and is often used today, and I recommend using a vegetable peeler to peel off only the coloured part of the peel) and if you choose to, a maraschino cherry, along with a splash of soda water to ensure the sugar is fully dissolved.
What kind of glass? Not surprisingly, you use an Old Fashioned Glass (or Rocks Glass) to make an Old Fashioned. An Old Fashioned Glass is short and squat, as it will be mostly filled with liquor and allows the drinker to inhale the aromatics of the bitters in the drink.
Fill the glass with ice, and add 2-4 oz of whiskey, to taste. Stir.
Only American whiskey should be used in this drink. I don’t care what anyone says, DO NOT use Scotch or Irish whisky. Don Draper makes his with Rye, but I make mine with Bourbon. Remember, buy American.
Top with a splash of soda water, and garnish with citrus peel and a maraschino cherry, if desired. This is a drink that’s really stirred, rather than shaken, and is generally made in the glass in which it is served. As long as you don’t put in too much soda, it’s a delicious cocktail.
I propose a revision of the Common Old Fashioned, which requires a few weeks of forethought. For this Old Fashioned, you will need bourbon, sugar, lavender bitters, lemon peel, orange peel, and bourbon infused cherries. These are what take the forethought.
Mix 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of quality bourbon together until the sugar is completely dissolved. To this, add 1 cup of dried cherries. Refrigerate in a glass container for a minimum of 2 weeks, shaking every 36 hours. Store any unused cherries in this jar.
Place a strip of lemon peel (yellow part only) in the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass with a sugar lump, 2 bourbon infused cherries, and several generous shakes of lavender bitters. Toss in a splash of soda water and muddle vigorously until sugar is dissolved. Fill glass with ice and pour in 3 oz of good quality bourbon or rye (I use Bulleit, they offer both bourbon & rye.) Stir, stir, stir! Add a splash of soda, and stir some more. Garnish with 3 bourbon infused cherries and orange peel.