The Classic Old Fashioned Revisited

by Pamela

rye whiskey, classic cocktails, old fashioned
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Welcome to the booze town!  I believe that I can officially be known as a booze hound.  In my defense (one of my other skills is that I can make a defense or justification for just about anything), I have been exploring all kinds of new things lately…including different kinds of alcohol.  I’ve had an exceptionally good time experiencing classic cocktail recipes.

Of course, it’s becoming quite fashionable for bars and restaurants to feature these old school libations.  Many bartenders are re-discovering the old liquors and flavors that were popular both pre and post Prohibition.  I think a lot of this trend has to do with people being tired of sucking down those neon colored sickeningly sweet drinks that have been so popular for the past 10 years.  There is a limit to how many sour apple martini’s you can drink in a night, forget the next day aftermath.

My trip into classic cocktails started with The Aviation.  This classic cocktail features Creme de Violette, maraschino liqueur and gin.  From there, it was on to homemade maraschino cherries.  (What else was I going to do with all that maraschino liqueur?)  Of course, the obvious next step was to start making cocktails using these delectable nectar filled cherries.  Since most of the modern cocktails don’t call for maraschino’s (and why would they want any of that neon vinyl mixed into their fantastical libation) it was time to delve deeper into the world of the classic cocktail.

I give you The Old Fashioned.  The typical old fashioned is made from bourbon whiskey, sugar, a maraschino and orange wedge (yes, there’s a couple more ingredients in there but these are the ingredients most people recognize).  I’ve really gone old school with my old fashioned.  It seems that one of the old fashioned recipes, for the old fashioned (cute huh? – sorry, moving on) includes rye whiskey and pineapple.  Legend has it the the fruit was added to the drink during Prohibition to cover up the “strong” flavor of the alcohol.  I don’t really understand that since people who were ordering alcoholic drinks during Prohibition knew what they were ordering.  It’s not like they were going to be successful trying to convince someone they were drinking a virgin old fashioned by throwing a couple of pieces of fruit into the booze pool that is the old fashioned.

But something else that’s interesting about the old fashioned is that it was customarily served with the muddling spoon still in the glass.  In that old family cookbook from the 1900′s that I have, his recipe also calls for leaving the spoon in the drink “to let the customer amuse himself.”  I think I laughed a good 5 minutes after reading that.

Relationship Advice

So you’ve already worked yourself into a lather about your date tonight – you don’t want to go – he/she is going to be boring.  Well, if you truly feel this way but you’re obligated to go at this point why not make the best of the situation and at least amuse yourself?  Remember when your mom would tell you to go amuse yourself for a couple of hours (to get you out of her hair for a little while)?  Well, now you can do it in a grown up way.

I’m not suggesting you pour yourself into a liquor bottle while you’re out with Mr. or Ms. Not Even In A Million Years, that would be bad for everyone.  What I am suggesting is that you take on a persona you’ve always thought would be fun.  This does not work if the date is someone you were set up on by a “friend.”

Have you perfected that Aussie accent? Are you intrigued with the life of Michael Westen and you would like to try that for a night?  This is the time to bring it out.  Give yourself an intriguing back story (keep it simple though or you’ll spend so much time trying to remember everything that you won’t have fun).  When I would go out with my girlfriends, they thought it was fun to try to introduce me to the biggest dorks in the place.  While I wasn’t thrilled with their antics, I had a blast with it.  Whenever they would try to introduce me to someone I would look very cute and pleasant and start speaking Italian.  (I was taking Italian at the time.)  The look on the guy’s face was hilarious – my girlfriends were not so amused.  Because the more the guy wanted to get to know me, the more he would talk to them so that they could “tell me” what he was saying and then they could interpret what I was saying back to him.  Of course, they didn’t speak Italian so the whole thing would backfire on them.  It was great!

So go on that date and be that international man of mystery or female undercover agent.  Put on your best accent and come up with your favorite back story.  Have fun with the night.

Ingredients

  • 1 Sugar Cube or 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Splash of Water
  • 1 Maraschino Cherry
  • 1 2″ Piece of Pineapple
  • 1 Wedge of Tangerine
  • 2 Ounces Rye Whiskey
  • Cubed Ice

Directions

In an old fashioned glass add the sugar, bitters and splash of water.

Stir to combine these ingredients.

Add the maraschino cherry, pineapple and tangerine wedge.

Using a muddler, or the back of a spoon, smash and muddle the fruit with the sugar mixture.

Pour in the rye whiskey.

Add the ice cubes and stir.

Serve with a slice of tangerine hooked on the glass and top with a maraschino cherry.

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18 comments

Sarah August 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I think they started adding fruit because the bootlegged liquor was probably VERY strong. So I’m sure it wasn’t to hide the fact they were drinking but just to make it go down easier. I need to add a spoon to mine now…that sounds fun :) My grandfather’s drink was an Old Fashioned but he’d always order it without the fruit.

Pamela August 2, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Hi Sarah,

They did add the fruit because the hooch was so strong and tasted pretty bad. I love that your grandpa was a ‘purist’ and ordered it without fruit. My grandpa was a highball guy….waaaay more booze than 7up though. ;) CHEERS!

vintage cocktail recipes June 9, 2012 at 12:11 am

A true old-fashioned is from way before prohibition and has NO pineapple. It is merely sugar, bitters, water and alcohol. Later in the early 1900′s an orange/cherry were added as garnish and later because of prohibition may have been added directly to the mix. An old fashioned should be just that an old fashioned cocktail, sugar, bitters, water and alcohol, period.

Cheers!

LMR November 10, 2011 at 9:49 pm

skip the sugar cube and make a batch simple syrup. 1 Cup water 1 Cup sugar, boil until sugar is dissolved. A much smoother cocktail. We skip the pineapple and use Gentleman Jack for the booze and club soda in place of the water. Our family’s favorite fall drink.

dominik mj September 10, 2010 at 7:40 am

I would recommend this procedure to make the “perfect” and classic Old Fashioned:

Rub one large white cane sugar cube on a washed orange, until the oils are soaked up of the cube [the cube is then very yellowish].
Soak then the cube with Aromatic Bitters.
Lay it into the Old Fashioned glass and add little water [<1/2 ounce].
Muddle and dissolve the sugar cube.
Add 2 large ice cubes [1" side length] add 1/2 ounce or good Rye [Rittenhouse bottled in bond is great - but Wild Turkey is also good]; stir.
Add another 2 large ice cubes and add another 1/2 ounce of Rye and stir again.
Repeat this procedure another 2 times.
Have a large orange twist [no pith] spray the oils over the drink surface and add it as garnish into the drink.

Enjoy…

Pamela September 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm

That sounds fantastic Dominik! Thanks for giving us that recipe. I’m definitely going to try it! I’ve been drinking the Wild Turkey Rye and am really impressed with it. But I recently picked up some Whistle Pig Rye, because I heard it was off the charts delicious. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, because I’ve been working with infused spirits (I know this probably goes against everything you believe in – but they’re really good). I’ll get on the tasting and report back to you.

dominik mj September 11, 2010 at 5:25 am

I would almost say, that this is a secret recipe as well as the secret door to heaven… The Old Fashioned is really that good [and you could even use different other sipping spirits: aged rum, añejo tequila, cognac, armagnac, calvados].

Unfortunately I haven’t got the chance to try WhistlePig – sounds very interesting though [unfortunately in Dubai things are arriving always a bit later - if they are coming anyway...].

And no – infusing is not against my beliefs.
I only try, to tickle out the prevalent flavors in the spirit with the additional aromatics, instead of giving a spirit a completely new character.

This except of vodka [as it is more or less neutral and is made to make crazy infusions].
Best infusion yet: Spiced Rum – if you will try it, you can not believe, how bad the quality of any commercial spiced rum is. It is just amazing… but this is another story!

dominik mj September 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm

No, no and another time no…

An Old Fashioned is suffer from muddling any fruit [especially cherries].
It is simply a slightly sweetened, spiced [bitters] and diluted variation of the spirit you are using.

I don’t really have something against muddling fruit – but it just makes a different drink out of it.

Pamela September 9, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I’ll definitely try with just the rye and the bitters (I like the rye whiskey enough to do that).

For the record…I only muddle 1 cherry in there and it’s of the not sweet variety. I make my own maraschino cherries with maraschino liqueur (they’re really boozy, but not sweet ;) ). maraschino cherry recipe

Stella July 31, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Yum, I love an Old Fashioned drink sometimes. Nice!

Lentil Breakdown July 31, 2010 at 10:16 am

Since I don’t speak Italian, I guess I’ll have to amuse myself with a spoon. Although I hear you can’t spoon alone.

Pamela July 31, 2010 at 11:48 am

Well, there’s always a body pillow for spooning with. Plus, you don’t have that awkward moment where you kick him out before he expects you to make breakfast. ;)

Brian July 31, 2010 at 7:55 am

It’s true, the old, Old Fashioned (http://www.classicmixology.com/cocktails/old_fashioned_whiskey_cocktail/1900) didn’t include fruit, just a lemon peel. And if you really want to be “old fashioned”, just order a Whiskey Cocktail (http://www.classicmixology.com/cocktails/whiskey_cocktail/1862).

Pamela July 31, 2010 at 11:51 am

Or you could skip the frou-frou altogether and order your whiskey neat. Me, I gotta have a bit of the frou-frou.

Lynne @ CookandBeMerry July 30, 2010 at 6:17 pm

What a beautiful photograph, Pam. I bet it tasted as good as it looks!

Pamela July 31, 2010 at 11:53 am

Lynne – you’ve got to try it. I’ve never been a big fan of the brown liquors (a bit too strong for my taste) but Kate over at Savour recommended I try the rye whiskey. Now, I’m hooked!

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