S.I.P.#4: Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned cocktail is the topic for the fourth round of our online imbibers party called S.I.P.

For me, this drink is an essence of cocktail culture. An icon. Or a symbol.

I prefer gin-based cocktails but when I have no idea what to drink tonight usually my choice is not Dry Martini but Old Fashioned. I love his strong character and his dry and sweet flavour. I love to make Old Fashioned, this simple procedure calms emotions and creates special atmosphere.

Old Fashioned is an immortal classics and an inspiration for creative boozing.

And that’s enough. Stop talking, take a bottle of whiskey and bring yourself down to make the cocktail.

My Old Fashioned is primarily bourbon Old Fashioned. I know that rum-based Old Fashioned is damned good. Also I gave a try to Cognac Old Fashioned. But this post is about bourbon.

It so happened that my first bourbon whiskeys was Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s, both from Jim Beam Small Batch Series.  For Old Fashioned I prefer Knob Creek because of his strength and nutty aroma.

Also I don’t like muddled orange and cherry in my cocktail as well as I can’t see me soaking thoroughly sugar lump with bitters. My technique is simple and fast.

I take a bottle of whiskey, bitters and rock candy syrup. Old fashioned glass, two big ice cubes, a jigger and a spoon are also needed.

I measure whiskey with a jigger and pour it in a glass. Then add bitters and syrup then stir all components gently. Add ice and finally give them another short stir. That’s all!

Maybe this technique is dull and not so attractive but it allows getting identical cocktails each time.

Old Fashioned

  • 50 ml your best bourbon whiskey (Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon),
  • 1 tsp (3 ml) rock candy syrup,
  • 3 dash Angostura aromatic bitters.

Combine all components in an old fashioned glass. Add ice and stir shortly.

Old Fashioned

This cocktail is a riot of tannin and species – powerful, warm, bitter, spicy, with a noble dry background.

It starts with a kick of dry wood and continues with pepper, nuts, candied ginger, prunes, cardamom and burnt sugar. Bitters bring more dryness on the swallow, and it seems like the taste eventually comes to the bitter side. But in the aftertaste spicy hints of vanilla and cloves restore a balance so the cocktail remains rather dry and spicy than dry and a little bitter.

The cocktail’s flavour has exceptional power. Whiskey’s raw strength is in a core of the power so this Old Fashioned fully inherits Knob Creek character.

Another whiskey from Jim Beam Small Batch series I used in my Old Fashioned cocktails was Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon.

This overproof single barrel unfiltered bourbon is outstanding (sometimes stunning) neat so I love the idea to add some sugar and bitters to his power and to create something like extreme Old Fashioned.

Booker’s Old Fashioned

  • 50 ml Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon,
  • 1 tsp (3 ml) rock candy syrup,
  • 3 dash Angostura aromatic bitters.

Combine all components in an old fashioned glass. Add ice and stir shortly.

Booker’s Old Fashioned

Despite its high alcohol volume, Booker’s initial kick isn’t destructive. Maybe that’s because of the whiskey’s velvet texture or creamy nose. But I have to admit that definitely Booker’s Old Fashioned give a good burning kick at the first sip.

When my tongue sensitivity gets recovered after that kick, the taste comes right away with great combination of honey, pepper, mint, anise, chocolate and leather. Booker’s aroma features begin to dominate on the palate as cocktail flavour becomes a bit sour and charcoal and oak jump at the front. These rough notes immediately come in balance with mainly dry hints of vanilla and cardamom and sweet touch of cream caramel.

My third attempt was inspired by mulled orange syrup I’ve made recently for the Inaugural Orange Punch. The goal is clear: I just swapped whiskey before but now I would like to see how it works when I change syrup.

Mulled Orange Old Fashioned

  • 50 ml Jim Beam Black Kentucky Straight Bourbon,
  • 3 tsp (9 ml) mulled orange syrup,
  • 3 dash Angostura aromatic bitters,
  • 2 dash Angostura orange bitters.

Combine all components in an old fashioned glass. Add ice and stir shortly. Garnish with a twist of thick piece of orange peel and drop the peel in the glass.

Mulled Orange Old Fashioned

Probably this variant should be on the spicy side because here heavy spiced syrup combines with almost teaspoon of bitters. It’s far from true: ordinary Jim Beam Black bourbon dominates there with strong wood tones and hints of vanilla and pepper.

Orange flavour appears on the swallow nevertheless while smell of orange zest prevails in the aroma. But certainly citrus flavours enrich usual combination of whiskey and bitters especially when orange notes meet warm spiciness of cloves and allspice.

Definitely the orange syrup provides more opportunities to enhance Old Fashioned than orange curacao I’ve tried later. Syrup variant was fresher and drier that help to keep cocktail power and depth.

To be continued soon…