Wine X Staff
Wine X Online Edition
There’s something about a classic cocktail that Is undeniably attractive. Flashy Mixology has its place and time, as does your old reliable house wine or beer. There’s something to be said for familiar and easy.
Truth be told, you don’t find the classics all that often, and when they’re “there”, they really aren’t that obvious…… mostly drowned out by the noise of everything else. Think about it next time you get a drink menu. See if you either just settle into the familiar or become amused with the unusual. No judging zone. It’s what we all do.
The rise of craft bourbon understandably has taken everyone’s eye off of bourbon cocktails. If you’ve dropped a Benji or two, plus the time and trouble to get a bottle of Blantons or Sweetens Cove, you probably aren’t too excited about adding anything to it. Neat or ice. Don’t think twice….. I get it.
Bourbon cocktails are among the oldest and most classic of the classics. There’s a reason why. There’s a pureness in their simplicity, yet there’s something mysteriously complex that draws you in. Soulfully satisfying. They’ve never fallen fully from fashion, and so every once in a while, you’ll get a subtle reminder that they exist. That’s when the sparks come back.
History is somewhat unsure about the origins of the Old Fashioned. Louisville claims it passionately, and since it’s a good story, we might as well go with that as the first spark. Truth be told, it probably took the combination of a Kentucky bourbon lover and a New York or Chicago bartender to make it happen. At some point, it stuck and went somewhere. Somewhere around 1880 as a start isn’t much of a debate. Who created it might always be a mystery. The story adds to the romance.
It’s classic in its simplicity. Bourbon, sugar, water, ice, and bitters… add a twist. That’s all. No need for a fancy shaker or any elaborate composition. You can make it in the glass, with a quick stir. It’s that simple. Its that easy.
The ingredients do matter though. Especially the main ones: the bourbon and the sugar. Start with a nice bourbon you trust and get a neutral sugar with some personality & complexity. One compliments the other. It’s ok to do a little trial and error here. You’ll know when you get it right. But the ingredients matter. It’s not a bad idea to scan the sugars available at your favorite foodie store. The stuff you flavor your coffee with isn’t really that satisfying.
The rest of the recipe, if you are a tenacious high-acheiver, is nothing more than a little time and repetition. Drink & repeat. A little too much OR too little water is probably the culprit if you’re out of balance.
It’s a slow sipper, best enjoyed with good company and a long conversation, a movie or good music. You can try to chug it, but letting the ingredients open up while the ice melts over a half hour or so is the best way to really get the best out of it.
Old Fashioneds never get old and boring. That’s the twist… both in form and pun. Substitute a grapefruit for the orange, or a luxardo cherry (but never the juice). Or do a quick flame on the rind to release the citrus flavor. You can go to another level with flavored bitters and sugars, and even some infused bourbons. Once you get the recipe down, it’s pretty fun to add a layer or two of complexity. The drink really never changes, much, It just gets a lot more interesting.
Anything here create a spark? Then next time you are scanning a drink menu, just ask for their best old fashioned. Enjoy every sip…… Classic.
Traditional Old Fashioned
- 2 oz of Kentucky Bourbon. (Any whiskey will work, but this is best with bourbon)
- Sugar cube – just one
- Water – just a few dashes. Only enough to dissolve the sugar. No more.
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Orange twist
Bringing it all together:
Truth be told, you can just throw it all together…. It’s going to click… but try it this way for the bests results:
- Place sugar and warm water into a glass. Stir until the sugar fully mixes into the water until the solution looks clear
- Add bourbon, bitters, and some small cube ice.
- Stir in glass for about 30 seconds. No reason to go longer. You don’t want much of the ice to melt, you just want to chill the cocktail.
- Using a highball glass, add one large ice cube. Smaller cubes tend to melt too quick.
- Strain your cocktail, leaving the small ice behind, into your highball glass
- Using a sharp paring, cut a one-inch orange rind, with only a limited amount of the white. With a match, flame the outer rind to a count of four, then twist over the top of your highball glass, adding it to the cocktail afterward