Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Old Fashioned and Its Many Facets

I've relocated to Brussels for the summer since my last post, hence the hiatus. In retrospect, starting this blog a couple weeks before I left home (and all of my bar tending tools behind) probably wasn't the brightest idea.  Oh well.

Anyways, today's drink is another classic, the Old Fashioned (don't worry, my loyal two readers, I'll be getting to some newer stuff soon enough).  I'll discuss the traditional method of preparing an Old Fashioned, a handful of preparation techniques that you can follow (or not), and finally my preferred iteration of this classic cocktail.

The classic Old Fashioned recipe is rather simple.  Like almost all things historical in the world of alcohol, there is some disagreement as to the original recipe and creator (for more on the history, I recommend Robert Hess's videos on the small screen network).  For simplicity's sake, this is George Kappeler's recipe I yanked off of Wikipedia.

"Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail
Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass;
add two dashes Angostura bitters,
a small piece ice, a piece lemon-peel,
one jigger whiskey.
Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass."

Very simple.  Today, orange and a cherry has replaced the lemon for a garnish.  Also, most people switch to simple syrup for convenience (1:1 or 2:1 sugar:water mixture), though there are your traditionalists *cough.*  What whisk(e)y you use is up to you, but you're mostly going to see Bourbon or Rye whiskey being used.  Also, the trend on ice leans heavier.  There is also a rather sad tendency of bartenders to muddle the orange and cherry at the bottom of the glass, and then make the drink.  This just adds lots of debris and not much flavor, and even that flavor is mostly the wrong part (you want the oils in the skin of the orange, not the juice from the flesh and that bleached maraschino cherry is little more than sugar and food coloring).  Anyways, the somewhat generally agreed upon method of making an old fashioned is the above method but with more ice and an orange peel (twisted to express the oils and rubbed around the rim of the glass, first) and cherry (stemmed/pitted) ON TOP of the ice.  Your fancier bartenders will also torch the orange oil as it is expressed form the orange peel.  This adds a nice smoky taste, which some people prefer.

Now, what's obviously most important is how I prepare the drink.  *ahem*  Here's what I use (at least while I'm traveling, but this is pretty close).

Ingredients from left to right:
-Angostura bitters
-Raspberry/pomegranate green tea syrup*
-Martini Bitters (see two posts back) in a Single Malt bottle
-High West Rendezvous Rye
-Orange (Yeah, that's actually a Clementine.  Pretend for a little bit, okay?)

*(1 cup water, boiled, with 2 tea bags, then heat reduced to medium, add 2 cups turbinado sugar, star until mixed in.  Do NOT let boil).

Equipment from left to right:
-Said bitters in an atomizer/martini/oil mister
-Ice sphere mold (Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds, Set of 2)
-Rocks glass
-Boston shaker
-Hawthorne strainer
-Bar spoon
-Creme Brulee Torch (not pictured but see below)

First, take the ice sphere out and put it in the glass.  Put the glass in the freezer so it is nice and cold when you put your drink in it.  You can use different types of ice for this, but I prefer the sphere because it looks sexy, the lower surface area keeps it form melting as quickly, and thus the drink gets watered down less.
 Next, measure out 2 oz of the rye and tea syrup and bitters to taste.  I prefer more bitters and less sugar, but generally a few dashes of bitters and around a quarter of an ounce of the syrup is fine.  Add these ingredients to the stirring side of the Boston shaker.   Add ice up to a little below halfway.  Stir until the outside of the shaker begins to precipitate at the same level as the ice.
 Strain into your prepared glass.  Cut a slice of the orange, twist it to express the oils, and rub the orange part around the rim of the glass.  Cut another strip to twist and garnish the drink with.  Add a cherry if you like.  But what cherry, you ask?  A real Maraschino cherry (not the sugary ones you put on ice cream sundaes, but the fancy ones you get from specialty stores) or maybe some real pitted cherries you soaked in brandy and spices.  In my state of transience, I was actually without either.  Mea culpa.  You can add these two garnishes to the top of the drink over the ice or add them to a martini pick to create a colorful flag-esque garnish.  You'll see my fancy sword picks later.  They didn't travel with me, sadly.

Sometimes I torch the orange peel if I have guests; often I'm just lazy.  Instead what I'll do is pump my trusty mister, light my creme brulee torch (you can use a lighter), and spray the mist through the flame over the drink, creating a flamethrower effect and adding beautiful (in sight and scent) aromatics to the top of the drink.  Adds some complexity and it's always fun to burn stuff (Jamie Boudreau does this with all sorts of stuff with marvelous results).
 And there you have it, the Old Fashioned.  And yes, I did somewhere along the way switch glasses and I couldn't tell you why for the life of me.  It was light and I was sleepy.  Anyway, enjoy your drink.
Final Recipe:
2 oz Rendezvous Rye
.25 oz Raspberry Pomegranate Green Tea Syrup
3-5 dashes Martini Bitters
Orange Peel
Torched Angostura  


No comments:

Post a Comment