Monday, October 12, 2015

Old Fashioned Guest!

   Yes, that's right, today's post is written by a special guest blogger, who tends to be a little bit old fashioned and who likes an old fashioned drink! Ladies and gentlemen, meet my husband Justin, who will tell you all about his favorite drink - Old Fashioned! 

   Few drinks exemplify "Classical" like the "Old Fashioned".  I recall reading in Jan Swafford's "The Vintage Guide to Classical Music", a very handy definition of what "Classical" is:

"something that endures as a model because its elements are so poised as to represent the miraculous illusion of perfection"

The "Old Fashioned" does bear some similarities to the works of Haydn and Mozart in that the beauty is in its simplicity and that the performance or crafting of that simplicity can make or break its enjoyment. In short, the "Old Fashioned" is a Cocktail that everyone should find cause to enjoy and is truly a "Classic".

My preferred recipe for this drink is as follows:

* 2 dashes of Bitters
 * 1/4oz Simple Syrup
 * 2oz Rye Whiskey

 1.  Stir with ice
 2.  Strain over a large ice cube
 3.  Garnish with an Orange Twist

 2 Dashes of Bitters - Bitters are in some ways the "salt and pepper" of cocktails.  They are characterized by a bitter, sour, or bittersweet flavor.  A dash is a fairly imprecise culinary measure (e.g. pinch or smidgen), but a dash is generally considered to be 1/8 tsp.  Most bottles have a restricted cap which automatically will dispense a dash when tilted into the glass.

1/4oz Simple Syrup - Traditionally the Old Fashioned is made using a sugar cube which is muddled (i.e. mashed and mixed) with the bitters and a few dashes of water.  I use syrup for added convenience when mixing and it also reduces the need for additional utensils such as a Cocktail Muddler.  Using simple syrup also ensures that you won't have an unsweetened drink with a shot of sweet gritty sugar waiting at the bottom of the glass.  Muddling the sugar by hand does allow for certain artistic variations such as using brown sugar, as some people prefer, as finding brown sugar syrup is somewhat difficult.

2oz Rye Whiskey - This Cocktail can be made with a various types of alcohol including Bourbon, Rye Whiskey, Cognac, and Rum.  However, the common practice 200 years ago when the Cocktail came to prominence was to use either Bourbon or Rye Whiskey.  I prefer to use Rye Whiskey because it has a milder and smoother taste than bourbon, but both are great to use in this drink.

Stir with ice - Often a few dashes of water is explicitly prescribed in an Old Fashioned recipe, but the water picked up from the ice when stirring the bitters, syrup, and rye accomplishes this.

Strain over a Large Ice Cube - I recommend using a single large ice cube with this cocktail.  This helps to ensure that the drink remains cold, but does not become watered down towards the end of its consumption.

Garnish with an Orange Twist - Using a peeler, remove a strip of peel from an orange.  Next twist the peel to extract the oils from the rind and place the twisted peel in the drink with the colored side facing outward.

Note: If you make this Cocktail with Bourbon a Lemon Twist is traditionally used

   Those of you who have had occasion to order this drink when at a bar may have had the unfortunate experience of receiving the cocktail with mashed fruit.  This is a modification that came about in the early 1900's  and sometimes if you order an Old Fashioned at a bar you will get this.  The only way to avoid this is to tell the bartender "No Muddled Fruit" when ordering the drink and hope that they make the drink simply using bitters, syrup, rye, and a twist.  You probably won't have this problem if you are at a fine restaurant or a place that makes Craft Cocktails (i.e meaning every element of the drink is handmade or tailored specifically to the drink).  The specific origin of this practice is somewhat nebulous.  However, one theory I have heard is that during prohibition a lot of traditions fell by the wayside and people started to apply different variations to many different cocktails.  Unfortunately, some of these Cocktail variations such as this have gained traction over time.

   In any event, this is a drink that is sure to impress your friends when hosting parties with its simplicity and presentation.


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