Welcome to Cocktail of the Week, brought to you by yours truly, knitwear designer, teacher, bartender, server, copyeditor, factotum. To kick things off, here’s a classic version of a classic: The Old Fashioned.
This cocktail is rated Funky: Requires a few tools beyond a bottle of booze and some soda or juice
There are innumerable versions of the Old Fashioned out there, to the point that the restaurant where I currently work has no set recipe. We ask diners several questions to determine what sort of Old Fashioned they would like. What defines the cocktail are three ingredients: Whiskey of some sort (usually bourbon or rye), sugar, and bitters. So the old-school version uses only these ingredients.
I’m going to use Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon (which is a good choice for those new to bourbon because it’s very smooth–you don’t want to use cheap bourbon in a cocktail that is pretty much all bourbon), Fee Brothers Old-Fashion Aromatic Bitters, and Domino superfine sugar (which you can find in any grocery store). On the far right in my photo is a jar of simple syrup, made by boiling a 1:1 mix of sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. If you find that your sugar isn’t dissolving, you can use simple syrup instead.
The tools you need are an Old Fashioned glass (in a pinch, you can use anything–juice glass, pint glass, canning jar, sippy cup–but it’s worth getting a few Old Fashioned glasses if you like cocktails. I have a few varieties from Crate & Barrel). I recommend purchasing a jigger to measure your alcohol. I used to just wing it, but since I’ve started using a jigger my cocktails have improved exponentially. A bar spoon is nice, but not necessary. It’s easier to stir with a bar spoon than with a teaspoon, so spend a few bucks on one.
Okay, all that said, here we go!
1. Put a bar spoon (teaspoon) of sugar in your glass. You can substitute simple syrup if you like.
2. Put a bar spoon of water (if you’re not using simple syrup) and two to three shakes of bitters in the glass.
3. Stir until sugar is dissolved. This is why you want the quick-dissolving, superfine sugar.
4. Add bourbon. I’m using 1.5 oz (I have to go to work tonight); the standard is to use 2 oz.
5. Stir and add a couple ice cubes.
6. Add a lemon peel for a garnish if you feel like it and have a lemon. Twist it over your drink to release the oils, rub it around the rim of the glass, and drop it in. You can substitute an orange peel if you like.
In future posts, I’ll be presenting different versions of the Old Fashioned and discussing bourbon and rye in more depth. Leave questions or comments for me! What would you like to see in this feature?