Happy Now #60

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Old Fashioned

I spend my Friday and Saturday nights creating and trying new cocktails. I infuse syrups, torch sprigs of spruce, juice vegetables and even, once in a while, pull out my molecular equipment and turn my kitchen into a chemistry lab. But, when push comes to shove, when I really want a drink I know I’ll love, I invariably turn to the classics. And the same can usually be said about many of the world’s best bartenders (not that I’m saying I’m one of those). One of those drinks is undoubtedly, an Old Fashioned. It is the whiskey cocktail in my eyes. Unbelievable in every way. There are variations on the classic, but I’m a purist, and like mine the way I like it.

Old Fashioneds are made with rye. Not bourbon. End of story. I prefer to use American rye like Sazerac, Redemption or Rittenhouse. Canadian ryes are generally not true ryes, and I find them harsher. Sorry, but it’s the truth. Alberta Springs, however, would be the exception. Use your favourite Old Fashioned glass. If you drink them often, consider getting a special crystal low ball glass. It’s worth it.

An Old Fashioned consists of rye whiskey, aromatic bitters, something sweet and a citrus twist. The simplicity of the approach and recipe belies the complexity of the final product. Chill the aforementioned glass. Soak a sugar cube in aromatic bitters such as Angostura. Once soaked, muddle the cube into a paste. Add 2 oz rye, ice and stir until thoroughly chilled and mixed. Strain into the chilled glass. Depending on preference and how long you plan to enjoy the drink, you can add a single large ice cube. Lastly, mist the surface of the drink with the oils from a twist of either orange or lemon, rim the glass with the peel, then drop in the drink. I find either amazing, though very different. You’ll have to experiment. And, that’s it.

Variations mainly involve trying different sources of the sugar. A lot of people like maple syrup or honey. Not me so much. I’ve also seen it served with a splash of soda water after muddling the sugar. I’ve tried it but didn’t really notice much of a difference. Lastly, different aromatic bitters will affect to the flavour profile. Anyway, it’s a phenomenal classic, meant for an evening by the fire, regardless of the season. Enjoy.

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