A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to be part of the Glenfiddich Most Experimental Bartender competition as a judge. The winning bartender was Michael Stephenson from the Lucky Shaker and I had the opportunity to chat to him about inspiration and cocktails. He mentioned that his favourite cocktail is an Old Fashioned and that got me thinking. Exactly where is this famous cocktail from and how difficult is it to make for myself?
The Old Fashioned is a cocktail made by muddling sugar with bitters and then adding some whisky. Traditionally decorated with some citrus, the cocktail is served in a tumbler glass. The first mentioned to a similar drink was around 1880 in an IBA cocktail book. The drink, like very thing in life, went through changes but the basics always stayed the same, sugar, bitters, alcohol. After Prohibition ended in the USA, a hotel bar in New York City started making the cocktail with Bourbon Whiskey.
Cocktails at home must be simple delicious and fun to make. Not too many complicated ingredients, expensive mixes or funny imported liqueurs. The Old Fashioned cocktail tick all the right boxes.
I chose honey as the sugar to bring out and match the toffee sweetness of the whisky. It is brings a different dimension to the cocktail compared to normal sugar.
For the whisky, I wanted something full-bodied with smoky notes that will make this drink stand out from a standard Old Fashioned. Something with enough smooth and balanced spiciness. Also something that is widely available and reasonably priced. I chose the Scottish Leader Origin for this purpose.
Angostura bitters are available in most bottle stores and used for a variety of cocktails and drinks. Especially with summer coming, there is nothing better to cool down with than a big glass of Rock Shandy. A non-alcoholic cocktail made up of Half Lemonade, Half Soda water and a few dashes of Angostura Bitters. If you don’t have it in the house, it is well worth the buy. Angostura bitters itself has an interesting history which you can read more about. Apparently only 5 people on the planet knows the recipe…
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Recipe for an Old Fashioned Cocktail
Makes 1 cocktail
5 ml honey
3 dashes Angostura bitters
60 ml Scottish Leader Origin blended whisky
2 maraschino cherries
Muddle together the honey, orange peel and bitters until mixed and then add the Scottish Leader. Ice is an important part of the drink, but I find that adding to many ice blocks dilutes the cocktail towards the end. Especially in this unseasonably warm Spring we are experiencing, the ice melts too quickly and leaves the cocktail with a watery taste. I prefer to freeze my glasses and then only add 1 or 2 block of ice.
Garnish with the Orange Peel and 2 maraschino cherries.
It is an easy and delicious cocktail to make. This might just become my favourite whisky cocktail for 2016. What is your favourite whisky cocktail?
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