Kansas City, opinion, cocktails, snark.

January 21, 2009

The Old Fashioned: for the love of god, man, put down the fruit bowl.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — akcb @ 1:16 am


There’s been quite a bit of chatter about this classic cocktail of late, both in local blogosphere and nationally. Ancillary Adams, citing inspiration from the New York Times liquor blog Proof, provided his (insanely wrong, in my humble opinion) recipe for the drink. The aforementioned Proof went on at some length regarding the battle between the fruit-salad and…well, the old-fashioned contingents in the OF wars. Liquor Snob links to a couple recipes.

I’m a big fan of the old fashioned and have a few rules to guide you. Use a small glass, an old fashioned glass if you will, something around 5-6 oz. In the bottom pour 2 barspoons simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water, shaken or heated until sugar dissolves, but for the love of all that’s holy, don’t let it start to simmer). You can use more or less to taste; I don’t care for an overly sweet Old Fashioned. Add three dashes Angostura, more or less. Or use your favorite aromatic bitters. I’m a huge fan of Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel-Aged Aromatic Bitters. Or their more common offering, the Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters, available locally at Red-X and probably other places. Right now I’m test driving the aromatic bitters from The Bitter Truth. Not bad, very anise-y, but it took like twelve dashes to taste the darned things.

Add a good-sized ice cube or two. If, like me, your Tovolo trays haven’t arrived yet due mainly in part to having yet to be ordered, use whatever ice you have. I had some crap ice from the 31st St. Berbiglia that’s been partially melted and refrozen and had to be dropped several times on the kitchen floor reducing most of it to ice dust. Sigh. Fill to within half an inch of the top with a decent bourbon (I like Old Grandad 80 proof for this) or rye (Rittenhouse, sometimes. Or Wild Turkey 101). Give it a stir. Twist a bit of lemon peel over the top and drop the peel in. Easy-peasy. And no innocent oranges nor cherries were harmed, and that’s got to make you feel better about yourself.

The thing about Old Fashioned is they can pretty much be made from any base spirit. While bourbon & rye are traditional, you’ll find a lot of brandy Old Fashioned up Minnesota-way. You could even use vodka or gin, I suppose, but there are far nicer applications for those.

Something I’ve been playing with lately, the Newfangled Old Fashioned, made in the manner described above but substitue rhum agricole for the bourbon. Delicious.


  1. Partly due to the Proof post, I have been enjoying the old fashioned more of late, including an unrecommended number of them last evening in celebration of, well, you know. I have come to the conclusion that rye is essential, and that I slightly prefer sugar to simple syrup. Something about syrup is a little too sweet or something.

    Comment by DLC — January 21, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

  2. It’s interesting that you say the syrup is too sweet. I was just reading an article in the Journal of the American Cocktail regarding syrup formulations and they tell you how to make a simple syrup that contains a teaspoon of sugar (uh, dissolved obviously)in every teaspoon of syrup. It had lots of formulas and numbers and whatnot and I never had much of a head for figures, but it was an interesting read anyhoo. Check it out if you have the opportunity and you probably do as, if memory serves, you work for the li-bary.

    Comment by akcb — January 21, 2009 @ 11:13 pm

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