Rye and tobacco
With gentlemanly pursuits
Learn how to make an old-fashioned that any gentleman would respect.
Whenever I visit a new bar the first drink I order is an Old Fashioned. Executing a proper Old Fashioned takes experience and care to blend the ingredients in just the right proportions. If the bar delivers a proper Old Fashioned then it bodes well that the rest of their drinks will be given similar consideration.
I figured it was probably time for me to learn how to make a proper Old Fashioned myself. I invited my closest partners-in-crime to be my judging panel and had a lineup that included: Blanton’s, Eagle Rare, Knob Creek, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, and Jim Beam Signature. All single barrel reserve, of course. Alas, I could not get my hands on the much sought-after Pappy’s Van Winkle. One day, you shall be mine. Oh, yes, you will.
Not Jack, I know, but I think Frank would’ve approved. So who else to have on the playlist but Ol’ Blue Eyes himself? Add in some Thelonious Monk, Miles, and Coltrane and you’ve got the soundtrack set for a laidback evening with the fellas.
What to serve with the cocktails? Something substantial and spicy to stand up to the sweetness of the cocktails. Cajun should do nicely. It is close to Mardi Gras, after all, and the Old Fashioned’s cousin is the NOLA sazerac. Now usually I’d do the cooking myself but in this case I left it to the experts. Poor House Bistro makes a mean po’boy and kept the fellas happily sated. Why no photos? You know how it is. Guests start arriving, drinks are poured, and food is devoured.
Of course, a proper Old Fashioned should be accompanied by a proper cigar. For the evening we indulged in Aging Room’s Quattro F55 Concerto cigars. Their well-balanced cedar, cocoa, and espresso flavors offset the cocktails perfectly.
The verdict? I think I can properly check, “Learn how to make an old-fashioned that any gentleman would respect,” off my 360 List. The winning recipe is one I’ve dubbed, The Classic Crimson. Classic, because despite its name an Old Fashioned is timeless, and Crimson because it’s really the blood orange bitters that sets this drink apart. Did a quick search of the online drink recipe sites and I think we have a winner. No other matches found. First, bitches.
The Classic Crimson cocktail
2 oz Blanton’s Original Single Barrel bourbon
dash blood orange bitters
splash simple syrup
Some whiskey stones or carved block ice gently chills without stealing character from the drink. Add a splash of simple syrup made from raw sugar. A dash of blood orange bitters. Two ounces of Blanton’s. Stir, then twist an orange peel over the drink and serve. I’m all for exploring new recipes, but for me, an Old Fashioned shall never be proper with a cherry in it. Cherry infused bitters? Sure. Fruit that’s better left on a sundae? Never. Remember when I said an Old Fashioned was my litmus test for a new bar? Add a cherry and you’ve got not one, but two strikes with me. That’s how strongly I feel about it.
Now that I’ve got the foundation set, I’ll be experimenting a bit with the recipe. Perhaps infusing the simple syrup with Arancia Rossa di Sicilia. Give a go with Blanton’s Gold Edition to have a bit of fudge and white pepper. Try barrel aging the cocktail.
This, of course, was merely stage dressing for an evening of jokes, stories, and conversation with gentlemen of distinction. Thanks to the fellas for sharing this experience and helping me check something off my 360 List. Special thanks to the lovely Kitten Marie for being my assistant for the evening (and helping me finally polish off my bottle of Deleón) 😉