Despite its name, the Old Fashioned moves with the times. From the first time the ingredients were mixed in the early nineteenth century, Bourbon whiskey, sugar, Angostura bitters and orange zest have stayed a stalwart of cocktail menus the world over.
The enduring appeal of this cocktail may be in its seductive, deep orange colour, or its sweet, fruity taste. It could lay in the heritage and stories that stem from this centuries-old drink, or even the intricacy and importance of the orange twist garnish.
But, whatever the reason behind the Old Fashioned’s enduring appeal, we gentleman must accept that it is well and truly here to stay. So, don’t get muddled over muddling or in a twist over the twist, and instead learn how to make the perfect Old Fashioned.
Choose your whiskey wisely
Begin by stepping away from the scotch. Many men glaze over when it comes to cocktails, and reach for the first bottle that comes to hand. But an Old Fashioned – thoroughly American and predictably sugary – requires a whiskey with a little less burn.
You could give rye a try, but we’d suggest sticking with good old fashioned Bourbon for your drink of the same name. Buffalo Trace is incredibly smooth, has a maple sweetness and is excellent value if you plan on mixing en masse. Woodford Reserve is woody and has cinnamon notes to compliment the orange, and Maker’s Mark’s vanilla aftertaste will give your cocktail a smooth, light finish.
You will also need your Angostura bitters, and some simple white sugar cubes. Many like to use brown cubes, or simple granulated, but we’d stick with the white as this’ll help you sidestep oversweetness.
Fashioning your Old Fashioned
Start by placing a napkin over the top of a rocks glass, and put a single sugar cube in the centre of the napkin. Shake three dashes of bitters onto the cube, and then remove the napkin – dropping the sugar into the bottom of the glass.
Add a short splash of soda water, and muddle the sugar and bitters into a syrup. Now, tilt the glass and rotate, ensuring that the syrup coats the walls of the glass.
The big finish
Add one or two large ice cubes, and then pour in two generous measures of Bourbon. Take two thin, but long, ovals of orange peel, gently twist, and drop one into your drink. Rub the other around the brim of the glass, and also drop in. Stir for around 20 seconds.
And that is it – the perfect Old Fashioned. Some men enjoy adding a cocktail cherry. Real men do not.