There is nothing quite as classic as ordering a bourbon Old Fashioned—that sexy whiskey with a simple, yet complex addition of sweet, bitter and citrusy combination. The Old Fashioned is becoming in fashion with the craft cocktail renaissance we are experiencing across the country. And some of the bars and restaurants I have visited over the last couple of years offer up some fantastic versions. And I say versions because modern twists have been added to the classic cocktail. It is not uncommon to see a candied or alcohol soaked cherry in your glass — or a sprig of some herb such as rosemary. Perhaps a dash or two of some exotic bitters.
The flavors can go all over the place, and as long as the bartender is using a quality whiskey and knows how to complement the whiskey with his flavors of choice, without overpowering the drink, they can be very good.
But nothing beats the true classic that has been around for 200 or more years.
The classic Old Fashioned is simple to make, but you need to take your time or you can mess it up. As I state above, use a quality bourbon whiskey. I enjoy Makers Mark. Most bars use simple syrup. A properly made simple syrup is acceptable, but purists insist on granulated sugar or a sugar cube. And a large block or blocks of ice is preferred over small cubes. Never used crushed. You don’t want the ice to melt too fast and water down the drink.
Here’s the recipe:
>> 1/2 tsp sugar
>> 3 dashes Angostura bitters (the classic)
>> 1 tsp water
>> 2 oz bourbon (the best you can)
>> Orange peel
Start by adding the sugar, bitters and water into a rocks glass. Stir until the sugar is just about dissolved. Add your large ice, then the bourbon, and stir gently. Express the orange peel and drop in. (Express simply means give it a twist over the drink so the oils in the peel mist into the liquid. For good measure, rub the peel around the glass before you drop in).
Once you have mastered it, try a good rye whiskey instead of bourbon. Enjoy!