I'm starting off this (hopefully) ongoing post of classics with the old faithful, an Old Fashioned. Which in my opinion is one of the perfect cocktails that balances between sweet and boozy. Ok, ok, to muddle or not to muddle? Sugar cubes or simple syrup? Bourbon or Rye? Still water or soda? These seem to be the questions that are always pop up when this cocktail is in the conversation. I encourage you to make them and enjoy them however you like them... but... Im going to discuss the way we, over at here at Cocktail+Creative, enjoy ours.
Let's work in the ingredients from least to most. Starting with the bitters, I prefer droppers instead of dashers but thats just me. Start off with 14 drops of Angostura (two dashes) and 7 drops of Regan's orange bitters (1 dash) These are a solid choice and easy to find bitters. But to add that extra something I like Abbotts aged bitters in place of Ango. It brings a bit more warmth and spice in the cocktail. There 10 million bitter types and companies out there and you should certainly explore as many as you can. However, when learning how things are supposed to taste as opposed to how you think they should its best to start with the simplest form and grow from there.
Sugar. Cubed, unrefined, cane, demerara, smoked, simples, etc. Again the k.i.s.s. method works best when trying out this classic and learning what makes it so great. Having that said, Im only going to be talking about the simple syrup type. Demerara sugar is the way to go. As a simple syrup it instantly mixes into the cocktail. As a sugar it has a nuttiness and robust flavor that is needed to stand up in the Old Fashioned. The simple syrup is called simple for a reason, Its simple. Don't buy from the store. Make at home. For this syrup its a 2:1 ratio, Demerara to water.
http://www.liquor.com/recipes/simple-syrup/ (How to)
Using this sugar and 2:1 technique will ensure consistancy and the viscosity the drink is known for.
Muddling for me on this cocktail is out of the question. Its a cocktail best served as silky as possible. Thats all Im gonna say about that.
Rye or Bourbon? Great question! For this post I am talking about my preferences and although rye is my first choice, a 100 proof whiskey like Old Grandad or Wild Turkey 101 also work well. But or me and mine, rye is the best way to go. A high rye bill and higher prof help balance out this classic cocktail. These factors bring a spiciness and a bit of heat to slightly cut through the sweetness. Also as you are taking your time enjoying your simple yet delicious Old Fashioned, the higher prof rye will be diluted perfectly as the ice melts ,ensuring that it still has a huge amount of flavor all the way to the last sip.
2oz of rye (100 prof Rittenhouse)
.25oz of demerara
14 drops of Abbotts
7 drops of Regan,s
garnish with orange twist
stirred on the rocks in a rocks glass