Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Old Fashioned, New Fashioned and Out of Fashion

(This is a good starting point for making an Old Fashioned that doesn't taste like crap.)
Making an Old Fashioned is a fairly simple task, and yet, over the years, it has been bastardized in oh-so-many ways. If you want to know all there is to know about crafting an Old Fashioned I'd recommend starting with Old Fashioned 101. For the more condense version, along with some a few extra Old Fashioned details.

See Also: Flavored vodka

There was a time when every cocktail was an Old Fashioned. In fact, what we now call the Old Fashioned, was the original 'cock tail' - hence the named Old Fashioned. In short, it consists of whiskey, dissolved sugar, and bitters. The world of cocktails (if that can even be called a thing) have also accepted the addition of the lemon zest or ice to the Old Fashioned, but a few additions haven't been so lucky; I'll be getting to those later.

(A Bourbon Old Fashioned, sans ice.)
In essence, you either want to dissolve a small amount of granulated sugar in water by stirring it around with a spoon for a bit, or you can simply use simple syrup. It's simpler, but by being slightly more efficient it loses a small amount of it's class. The classic way may have involved a sugar cube, but nevertheless, it's the same damn thing. Just make sure you completely dissolve the sugar before adding your spirits and bitters.

See Also: Classy cocktails

As I mentioned, you can spice it up a bit by adding ice and lemon zest to your concoction. I like it this way, just because it was the first way I learned to make a 'proper' Old Fashioned, but to be honest, I have no bias in either direction as to whether ice and zest improve the mixture or not. But as you can imagine, a few things over the years have been added to the Old Fashioned which simply take away from the spirit. Or rather, from the spirits (the whiskey).

(This is what a Cognac Old Fashioned Looks like. Kind of like a regular Old Fashioned, right!?)
Somewhere during the hi-ball revolution of adding soda to everything, people thought it would be a good idea to add soda to the Old Fashioned. Because what's a cocktail without soda, right? So it's not uncommon to find cocktail books such as the good old handy Mulligan's who totally recommend adding every citrus fruit you can imagine, and topping with soda. Old Fashioned 101 explains this phenomena as the 'disaster in a glass' that you would find common from the 80's on. To relative newcomers such as myself who enjoy the craft revolution and throwbacks to the Prohibition era, and earlier, it's sacrilege, and well, it should be sacrilege to everyone. So here's the gist: don't stray from the formula, don't create your own spin on the Old Fashioned, don't add unnecessary complication. It's an Old Fashioned because it's simple, elegant and delicious, and complication does a disservice to the hardworking people who created the delicious spirits in the first place.

See Also: My first go at Buffalo Trace - a bartender flop

The spirit of the old fashioned is, well, about the spirits. From time to time I make blog posts like these, suggesting whats unacceptable, versus what is. Keeping in mind the spirit of this timeless classic, don't be afraid to try it with any other category of spirits. I'm partial to cognac, or aged tequila as a substitute in many classic whiskey cocktails, but have also had the pleasure of a dark rum Old Fashioned; it was surprisingly good considering dark rum is not my regular cup of tea.
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