When you order an Old Fashioned in Texas, your bartender will probably ask you what kind of whiskey you'd like. When you order in Wisconsin, they'll probably ask your brandy preference. But more and more establishments are embracing the true nature of an Old Fashioned, even creating entire menu sections of only Old Fashioneds.
By craft definition, an Old Fashioned has 3 components, sugar (or sweetener), bitters, and spirit, and is served over ice.
Consider these 3 very different old fashioned recipes.
The first fantastically made Old Fashioned I had in Dallas used Redemption Rye. Muddle a single peel from an orange and a lemon with .25 ounces of simple syrup (1:1 ratio water and sugar) in an already chilled pint glass. Add 2 ounces rye and fill glass with ice. Stir. Strain over large cube in double rocks glass. Torch lemon peel, making sure to rub expressed oils around the rim of the glass and down the side. A keen bartender's trick is to incorporate those bright citrus notes where they'll influence your guest the most, next to their face and body. The heat from your guest's hand will warm those oils and release a delightful fragrance so even when they aren't tasting, they're tasting. To snag this delightful classic see the boys at Tate's Dallas on a Wednesday when most whiskeys served neat, on the rocks, or as an Old Fashioned, are half priced.
Now, if you're in Wisconsin be prepared for a completely different cocktail, viscosity, flavor, and presentation. Jono Marcus, South Central Sales Director for Copper & Kings American Brandy knows what it takes to make a proper brandy Old Fashioned. He advises: in your cocktail glass, muddle an orange slice (avoiding the pith), a maraschino cherry, 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters, and a sugar cube. Fill the glass with ice (crushed or pebbled is preferred). Add 2 ounces Copper and Kings American Craft Brandy. (Sidenote: Copper & Kings Butchertown Reserve Cask Brandy stands up quite nicely in this rich cocktail, but at 124 proof it's not for the faint of heart!) Add splash of Sprite or Squirt and garnish with maraschino cherry. For the Old Fashioned fashion-forward, check out the newly released Copper & Kings Cocktail Cherries with the stem on.
And last, but definitely not least. Consider this Old Fashioned made with The Botanist Gin. In a mixing glass add 2 ounces gin, .5 ounce Kleiner Feigling, a few dashes of grapefruit tincture, and stir. Just a few revelations will do; strain over large cube in double rocks glass. Garnish with fresh basil (or herb of choice) and a few dashes of hibiscus tincture.
Just like all cocktails, regional and personal tastes influence what is considered an ideally balanced beverage. What's your favorite way to make an Old Fashioned?
A Betty (by a broad definition) is honest and brave, loyal and nurturing, witty and fun. She's balanced, quirky, open-minded, complex, and flawed. She's soulful and driven. And I think there's a little Betty in all of us.