How to Craft the Perfect Old Fashioned: A Timeless Whisky Cocktail Guide
The Old Fashioned is not just a drink; it’s a piece of American history. This classic cocktail can trace its origins to the early American bars where old timers would request their whisky to be served the “old fashioned” way. Celebrated by iconic figures like Don Draper, this drink has stood the test of time.
Whisky: Most old fashioned cocktails champion bourbon or rye, but for those seeking an international twist, Scottish whiskies, especially Highland ones, bring a rich tapestry of flavors. Picture this: an Old Fashioned with a splash of Glenmorangie or Dalmore, offering a honeyed sweetness that’s both robust and delicate.
Sugar: A sugar cube is traditionally used, muddled until the sugar dissolves. However, simple syrup is a modern alternative, offering a consistent sweetness.
Bitters: Angostura bitters are the classic choice, with just a few dashes needed. Yet, orange bitters are gaining traction for those preferring a citrusy kick.
Garnish: An orange peel twist or a luxardo cherry (or a maraschino cherry) can elevate the old fashioned cocktail to new heights.
Using the right tools can make or break an old fashioned. A whisky glass or a rocks glass, often called an old fashioned glass, is preferred. Large ice cubes chill the drink without over diluting. The glass with ice is where the magic starts.
How to make an Old Fashioned: Step-by-Step Preparation
Classic Old Fashioned Method:
Choose Your Glass: Begin with a clean whiskey glass or rocks glass.
Sweeten: Place a sugar cube at the bottom of your glass. If you prefer a consistent sweetness without the granules, opt for a teaspoon of simple syrup instead.
Dashes of Flavour: Add a few dashes of Angostura bitters onto the sugar. For a citrusy variant, consider a dash or two of orange bitters and/or an orange slice.
Muddle: Using a muddler, press down on the sugar until it’s dissolved. If using simple syrup, this step can be about blending the bitters into the syrup.
Ice It Up: Add large ice cubes (or a large ice cube if you prefer to make a classic old fashioned) to the glass, filling it about two-thirds of the way.
Pour the Spirit: Gently pour your choice of whiskey over the ice. This could be a robust bourbon, a spicy rye whisky, or even a Highland Scotch for those wanting a unique twist.
Stir: With a bar spoon, stir the mixture gently, ensuring the ingredients combine harmoniously while chilling the drink.
Garnish: Complete the drink by adding an orange peel twist. Express the oils of the twist over the drink by giving it a gentle squeeze, then drop it in. For a cherry on top (quite literally), add a luxardo cherry or a maraschino cherry.
Experiment with Sweetness: Trade the sugar cube for flavored simple syrups like vanilla or chili for a unique twist.
Spirited Variants: Fancy a change? Incorporate a dash of brandy or rum alongside the whiskey for added complexity.
Mix and Match Garnishes: Play around with garnishes, adding lemon peels or grapefruit twists to bring a different aroma and flavor to your cocktail.
Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Old Fashioned
Harmony is paramount. The sweetness, whether from a sugar cube or syrup, should play a dance with your whiskey, not overshadow it. And when served in a rocks glass, the experience feels nothing short of authentic.
An Old Fashioned pairs intriguingly with dark chocolate, their mutual rich profiles complementing each other. Imagine savoring a piece of 70% cocoa with your drink, the bittersweet notes of the chocolate echoing the depths of the cocktail.
Whisky variations: For those venturing into the world of old fashioned cocktails, there’s an ocean of whisky options, from affordable bottles to premium spirits. Cocktails like these have graced the menus of places like the Pendennis Club. Dive into resources and find your perfect old fashioned recipe.
Soda Water: Often referred to as club soda, has occasionally been a topic of debate in the Old Fashioned’s history. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some variations of the Old Fashioned recipe called for a splash of soda water to be added. The effervescence can lighten the drink’s dense character. But purists argue that this addition detracts from the classic’s true essence. The subtle carbonation of soda water, however, has also been used merely to dissolve the sugar cube before other ingredients are added.
Orange Twist: The orange twist isn’t merely an ornamental garnish. Historically, the essence from an orange twist was used to add aroma to the Old Fashioned cocktail. The natural oils in the orange peel complement the deep undertones of the whiskey. This small detail can transform the olfactory experience of the drink, offering a bright, citrusy counterpoint to its darker, sweeter notes.
The history of the Old Fashioned cocktail: Understanding the Old Fashioned cocktail requires a journey back to the 1800s. In the bars of Louisville, Kentucky, particularly at the renowned Pendennis Club, the early iterations of this drink began to gain popularity. The state, known for its bourbon, became the birthplace of this classic. The very term “Old Fashioned” resonates with a nod to tradition and a resistance to the whims of changing times. As the 20th century progressed and the cocktail culture evolved, bartenders experimented, leading to an array of variations. Yet, through every trend, the Old Fashioned remained steadfast, reminding drinkers of the timeless charm of simplicity.
Rye Whiskey: With its spicier and more robust profile compared to the smoother, sweeter nature of bourbon, has a storied history with the Old Fashioned. In the post-Prohibition era, rye was the preferred choice for many American bartenders. Its rich history goes back to the American colonial period, where rye was the prevalent grain in many states, especially in Pennsylvania and Maryland. When used in an Old Fashioned, rye introduces a complexity, adding a peppery bite that contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the sugar and the aromatic quality of the bitters. It’s a testament to how the same drink can shift in character based on a single ingredient.