This is a very classic Old Fashion. It’s the Old Fashioned you will get at The Campbell Apartment or a decent steakhouse or, as I had last night, in Walter Foods.
2 oz Rye or Bourbon
1 Maraschino or brandied cherry
a half a slice of orange
2 dashes of bitters
It’s said that this is one of the first cocktails. That may or may not be true but it makes one wonder what it was called when it was new. That aside, it’s one of my favorite drinks and it’s both easy to make and easy to screw up. Like most cocktails there are two key elements: water to spirit ratio and sweetness. The water comes from the ice (and how broken up or melted it is) and the sweetness is from the fruit and sugar.
Like all things with very few ingredients it’s important that each ingredient is of good quality. You’re going to taste everything in this, so don’t skimp.
Fruit: I used a nice fresh orange and “okay” Maraschino cherries. If you can, go for fancy brandied cherries or Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries.
Sugar: My gut really says to use some kind of raw sugar, like Demerara, but after a little trial and error the strong molasses flavor really overtakes the suability of the Rye. Plain old white sugar seems to be best.
Spirit: This is a sweet drink that really shows off what ever whiskey you use in it. I like old fashions with spicy Ryes and don’t like them with Bourbon, because you are already adding sugar and fruit so the sweetness of most Bourbons will just make it taste like cough syrup.
I’m currently having a love affair with Templeton Rye. It not ridiculously expensive, it’s smooth and spicy at the same time, and it works well in Manhattans (especially Perfect Manhattans) and Old Fashions.
Bitters: Angasturo Bitters are the classic, but many others can add interesting notes to this simple drink. I used Fee Brothers Bitters because I like the slight black licorice flavor. Don’t go crazy with the bitters or it will overpower the citrus of the orange and the flavor of the spirit. Two dashes, that’s it.
Instructions: Drop a half a slice of orange, one cherry, the sugar and bitters in a lowball glass. Muddle these until the cherry is broken up and the orange peel is crushed. It should smell lovely. Add Rye and enough ice to fill the glass 75%. Put half a metal cocktail shaker over glass and shake it hard three or four times, then pour back into glass.