Ice For An Old Fashioned
Ice serves a basic purpose a way to make a cold drink. But it also has the ability to elevate a drink to bar-style quality. You have a few options with your ice, but we have a preferred one for an Old Fashioned. Heres what we tested:
- Use your standard ice cube to make the drink/fill the glass
- Use small square cubes
- Use large square cubes
- Our favorite: Use clear square cubes
A quick note on clear ice cubes. They melt slower and keep your drink cooler. Making clear ice cubes isnt as easy as it sounds. Some of it comes down to the purity of the water, but the real trick to making clear ice at home is slowly chilling the water.
We tested multiple makers to do this at home and by far our favorite was the True Cubes ice mold.
Bitters Orange And Cherries
We add two to three dashes of bitters. Our standby is Angostura bitters, but one look in a well stocked store or online proves there are lots to experiment with.
Depending on who makes it, the amount of fruit added to an Old Fashioned varies. Weve seen everything from multiple slices of orange and an abundance of cherries muddled together then served in the glass to an Old Fashioned with no fruit whatsoever.
We like somewhere in between. A 2-inch piece of orange or blood orange peel and a cherry and were happy.
If were feeling feisty, well go for a flaming orange twist. To do it, take a coin-sized slice of orange peel , squeeze it between your fingers and light a match or lighter next to it .
The oils will spark and flame out. If you do all of this close to or over the glass, a toasted orange aroma will fall down over the drink. We dont add the flamed peel to the drink, but rubbing the flamed peel around the rim of the glass is a nice touch.
The flavor and aroma of the drink really changes and while we dont do this all the time, its fun to experience the difference.
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How To Muddle Fruit
Muddling fruit is quite simple . All you do is squish the heck out of your fruit until you get out as much juice as possible.
You can use a wooden spoon, but spring for a muddler if you can. This is a tool thats used like a pestle to grind herbs and fruit for cocktails. Using one seems self-explanatory: push down, twist, repeat. Get your hands on our favorite muddler right here.
However, using too much force can release the oils from the peel. That makes for a rather bitter drink, which isnt the point of an Old Fashioned. Pressing too hard can also break the glass, especially if you dont have a thick-bottomed cup.
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Is Maker’s Mark Bourbon
The classic Maker’s Mark begins as cask-strength bourbon, is filtered and is then proofed down to our optimal taste profile at 45% alcohol Maker’s Mark is bottled and then hand-dipped in our signature red wax by a member of our dipping line just like we’ve done since bottle number one…. continue reading
History Of The Old Fashioned Cocktail
The Old Fashioned was one of the first cocktails – if not the first cocktail – long before advanced bartending techniques were a thing.
As far as we know today, the first written mention of the word cocktail appeared in a US newsletter called The Farmers Cabinet.
Then, three years later, in 1806, the first written explanation of the term cocktail was given by The Balance and Columbian Repository. And they defined a cocktail as a “concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar”. Pretty close to an Old Fashioned, isn’t it?
Yet, the name Old Fashioned didn’t come up before about 60 years later. In the meantime, the initial ingredients as mentioned in The Balance and Columbian Repository were twisted, changed, and modified a lot.
At the time, a cocktail wasn’t a term to use for a whole category of drinks. It was more like there was that one thing you would call a cocktail.
By the 1860s, the cocktail had changed, and additional ingredients like Curaçao, Absinthe, and other liqueurs were part of it. But slowly, as so often, people started to remember -and mix- the initial version again. And they referred to it as “Old Fashioned”.
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What’s The Difference Between Scotch And Whiskey
Back to Encyclopedia Britannica: Scotch is a whisky that gets its distinctive smoky flavor from the process in which it is made: the grain, primarily barley, is malted and then heated over a peat fire. A whisky cannot be called Scotch unless it is entirely produced and bottled in Scotland…. read more
Enjoy the unmistakable taste of Johnnie Walker stirred down with sugar and Angostura bitters. Although it’s called an Old Fashioned, there’s nothing outdated about this timeless cocktail with a smoky edge…. see details
16 Best Bourbons To Use In Your Old Fashioned
You can even use a smoky variety to give a different taste to your old fashioned. Brands such as Buffalo Trace, Larency, Woodford Reserve, Jim Beam, and Bulleit are old fashioned favorites…. read more
The 6 Best Whiskies for Your Hot Toddy
- Wild Turkey 101. The high alcohol makes bourbon a lot to handle if you sip it solo. …
- The Famous Grouse Smoky Black. …
- Four Roses Yellow Label. …
Starward Nova Single Malt Australian Whisky
Drawing inspiration from Australias brewers and winemakers, this whiskys malted barley mash uses brewers yeast for fermentation, while the finished double-distilled spirit ages in red wine barrels sourced from the Yarra and Barossa valleys. The end result is a single malt that serves vibrant red fruit and baking spice notes, which arrive in bold but balanced proportions.
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Is Jack Daniels A Bourbon
Jack Daniel’s is not a bourbon – it’s a Tennessee Whiskey. Jack Daniel’s is dripped slowly – drop-by-drop – through ten feet of firmly packed charcoal before going into new charred oak barrels for maturing. This special process gives Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey its rare smoothness…. see more
What Is The Old Fashioned Cocktail
The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest Cocktails and is THE oldest Cocktail with Whisky. At the beginning of the 18th century, the mixing of drinks with alcohol started and the term cocktail was first mentioned. Back then, only a few ingredients were added to the spirits and the Old Fashioned was simply called Whisky Cocktail. Only in the second half of the century, it became more common to add more components to Cocktails. But many people still wanted the more simple versions, referring to them as the old-fashioned. Since most of the times the Whisky Cocktail was ordered under this term, over the years the Whisky Cocktail became the Old Fashioned, as we know it today.
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The Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail Features Little More Than Whiskey Sugar And Bitters Done Right Its A Perfectly Balanced Timeless Crowd
- Bitters add complexity and dimension to the bourbon or rye.
- Sugar brings subtle sweetness to open the bourbons aroma.
- Toasted sugar tastes less sweet than plain, and can add a subtle note of caramel to play off the bourbon or rye.
The Old Fashioned is one of the most venerable of cocktails, predating not only the motorcar but the presidency of Abe Lincoln. All it takes is serving whiskey, sugar, bitters and, if you like, a cherry or orange garnish on the rocks. Properly made, its strong but not too strong, sweet but not too sweet, and, most importantly, its dead-simple and absolutely delicious.
The best bitters for an Old Fashioned are up for debate, but Angostura is classic for a reason, while Fee Brothers offer a welcome alternative.
How To Make A Simple Syrup
To make a rich simple syrup, boil 1 cup of sugar with ½ cup water and then allow it to cool. This syrup will add sweetness without watering down the drink.
You can use either cubes or syrup, but muddled sugar cubes add more body.
Just be sure that the sugar completely dissolves. It may take a few extra minutes, but at least you will have a couple of extra minutes to chat with your friends.
Each brand of bitters is made of different types of botanicals and will add subtle flavors to drinks.
In an Old Fashioned with bourbon, agostino bitters help round out the flavors without changing the overall character.
You only need a few drops as the flavors are concentrated, and while two or three will add some depth, too many can make the drink too bitter.
- Orange garnish:
Cutting a perfect citrus twist is a skill you will use for many drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike.
This tiny but fancy touch takes an alcoholic drink like this one from good to great-in both flavor and beauty.
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Standard Old Fashioned Recipe
2-4 oz bourbon of choice2-3 dashes of bittersFew dashes of plain waterBurnt orange peel to garnishLarge ice cube
Step 1 In a rocks glass, muddle together the bitters and the sugar.Step 2 Add few dashes of plain waterStep 3 Add ice into the glass, then pour the bourbon over the top.Step 4 Next stir gently.Step 5 Cut small peal off orange and burn it with a lighterStep 6 Use the burnt orange peel to garnish the drink.Step 7 Sip and enjoy.
Its quite common that once you master the standard Old Fashioned youll want to experiment with a few other variations. Below are two spins I really enjoy.
Why Brandy Old Fashioneds
Wisconsin Old Fashioneds are made with brandy. If you head north and youre used to a whiskey old fashioned youll be surprised when you have the cocktail set before you. Its generally a muddled fruit, brandy-based old fashioned with a little bit of sprite or sour soda on top.
Robert Simmonsons book mentions that the 1893 Worlds Exposition in nearby Chicago showcased Korbels brandy. All this love of brandy may stem back from that event. Maintaining that love of brandy old fashioneds is the Wisconsin tradition of Friday night fish-frys where brandy old fashioneds were a favorite tipple.
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The New Old Fashioned Cocktail
Who wants a drink? Its been a long week. Lets relax with an Old Fashioned, one of the oldest cocktails around. The Old Fashioned is for whiskey lovers, certainly, but it also might convince naysayers to become whiskey cocktail drinkers after all.
Like mulled wine, the Old Fashioned is perfect during the holidays, on chilly evenings, and basically any time you find yourself sitting around a fire. Its a bold, dynamic drink thats a little citrusy and a little sweet.
I came up with one delicious twist on the classic recipe, which also happens to be a shortcut. If youve been following this blog for a while, I bet you can guess what it is.
Thats right, I used maple syrup instead of simple syrup. Historically, Old Fashioned cocktails are made with a sugar cube or simple syrup. Im here to tell you that they taste better with maple syrup, which complements bourbons caramel notes and stirs in like a dream.
Back when the Old Fashioned gained popularity, maple syrup was not readily accessible. Lucky for us, it is now. This recipe yields the best Old Fashioned youll ever make at home. I hope youll give it a try!
Garnishing This Old Fashioned Recipe
Both the orange peel and cocktail cherry are listed as the garnish in the official IBA definition of an Old Fashioned, though for flavor only the orange peel is required. Here are a few notes on the garnish:
- Orange peel: Squeeze it over the drink first, which releases the oils and gives it a strong orange perfume. To amp it up a notch, run the orange peel around the rim of the glass. This gives an even more citrus-y first sip.
- Cocktail cherry: The cherry adds a nuanced sweetness to this cocktail. Determine if youd like your Old Fashioned on the sweeter side.
- Lemon peel: A lemon peel can also be an optional garnish for an Old Fashioned, along with the orange peel.
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Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon
Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon is the third release in the Old Forester Whiskey Row series. A 115 proof expression that celebrates the brands continued distillation during Prohibition, when Old Forester was granted a permit to continue distilling on Louisvilles Whiskey Row.
This Whiskey is bold on the nose, with deliciously intense notes of cherry, caramel and dark chocolate. The palate is rich with sweet caramel, nuttiness, and cedar. The finish is wonderfully tart with a long smoky finish.
How much does Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon cost?
Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon costs around $50 per bottle
Choosing The Best Bourbon For Your Old Fashioned
One of the things that can make or break your Old Fashioned is the bourbon that you choose to use. There are so many bourbons that are available on the market today that you might find yourself becoming overwhelmed at the thought of picking the best bourbon for an Old Fashioned.
Thankfully we took the guesswork out of this for you. We went through and tasted different bourbons both on their own and as they had been mixed with the ingredients to form an Old Fashioned.
That being said, my personal favorite bourbon to use for an Old Fashioned is Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This is now how I order the drink when I am out at a bar or how I make the drink when I am sitting at home and using bourbon instead of rye.
Some people are not fans of bourbon. But for a bourbon lover, I simply cannot understand why someone would not enjoy a delicious Old Fashioned using Americas Spirit bourbon.
Stay Gold & Drink Up.
About Todd Smidt
Todd is a man of simple tastes: traveling, words, whiskey, & dad jokes. He enjoys first-rate banter, long walks along the coast, High West, and Vonnegut. He spends his free time traveling the world, drinking whiskey, and writing about it.
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Getting To Know Eric Alperin
T: Well, thats actually a wonderful segue onto the final portion of this. This is going to be a recurring final portion of the podcast. Weve gotten to learn a lot about the Old Fashioned with you. Weve gotten to know a good amount about you, too. But, that might not always be the case when were interviewing folks for this. I think theres definitely some more drinks out there that require more nerding out, as you say, in terms of ingredients or specs or whatnot. The last segment of the show is really to learn a little bit more about Eric Alperin, assuming Unvarnished didnt exist. Ive got some quick-fire questions to finish the show. I will say this again, and I kind of want to say it every time. This is inspired by a wonderful British radio show called Desert Island Discs. Listen to it. Its incredible.
E: Oh, my God, I love this. Desert Island Discs is one of my favorites. I cant tell you how many times Ive laughed and cried listening to some of these. The one thing Im going to say is that the first Desert Island Discs I listened to was Stephen Hawking. It was soul crushing, beautiful, mind blowing. It was heartbreaking, but amazing. So, yes. Im so glad you were inspired by such a legacy of the show.
T: A couple of questions to get to know you. The first is, what would be the first bottle whether its a brand or general category that makes it onto one of your bar programs?
T: Hope that its good and fast.
E: Yeah. Or, good and cheap doesnt hurt.
Final Thoughts On The Old Fashioned
T: What else about this drink? I think thats been an incredible rundown of the way that you approach it. I dont want to put words in your mouth. I feel like youre of the camp that, this is the way that I approach it, people can have their own way. Whats more important is maybe why youre thinking about each thing, right?
E: Im a creature of habit. I love the process. I love consistency. I am kind of an old dullard or an old soul when it comes to how I build out the bar, how I do the mise en place, and the recipes that Ive come to know and love. This is just what I do in my house. Ive had numerous other Old Fashioneds, and theyre usually really good when you can see and sense real attention to process and detail. Youve been to a bar where it feels like, Man, this is sloppy. Its going to end up in the drink. Theres no two ways about it. Form and function do have a huge effect on results.
E: Oh my God. I love that youre bringing this up, because it is. We all have a Spidey sense. Theres a sixth sense. I can walk into The Varnish and tell you the three things that might not be right the lights, the music, the temperature. If somebody is shaking and their rock of ice exploded before the drink was actually fully shaken, it is sound. So much of it is sound. I hate when bartenders slam their tins at the top with another tin. Like, why are you doing that? Just use the palm of your hand. Sound is very important.
E: I mean, Ive got some more for you.
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