I soon realized that the Old Fashioned is merely one battle line, albeit a significant one, in a much larger discussion among cocktail fans online that sometimes flared with passion (for regardless of the topic, the Internet has become no place for even-tempered debate). And while the subject of how to mix drinks is typically a pleasant one, the debates over proper recipes, spirits, tools and techniques that are conducted in person — typically over cocktails that have been exactingly described to an increasingly exasperated bartender — or on blogs or online forums such as eGullet and the soon-to-be-defunct Drinkboy forums, can sometimes veer into serious, clinically dry and even belligerent arenas.The author then gives his recipe for an Old Fashioned. I don't completely agree with his recipe, so I thought I would present to you my Old Fashioned instructions (with commentary).
To make a great Old Fashioned you need the following ingredients:
1. An Old Fashioned glass:
Enough ice to fill that glass beyond where you think you should. This drink should be cold after all.
3. Simple Syrup:
There are a lot of purists who argue for a single sugar cube muddled with a splash of water. Fine I guess, but simple syrup is a mixture of water and sugar. And it is way faster. I usually use about 2 teaspoons.
The author of the article derides the addition of fruit a little bit. I disagree. A maraschino cherry and a and a slice of orange (peel on) add some interesting flavor, beautiful color and a little treat while you're waiting for the next one. And if your complain is that it masks the flavor of the whiskey, then you probably shouldn't have put bitters and sugar in your drink either.
The fruit should be muddled at the bottom of the glass with the simple syrup. It helps bring out the flavor that is hidden in the orange peel and helps distribute the flavor throughout the drink. There are a lot of different muddlers in the world. I like this kind:
I like rye whiskey. It's a little spicier and a little less sweet. Those are good things when you are making a drink with a bunch of sugar in it. There are several varieties of rye for sale in KC. On the high end, Sazerac is fantastic. Kind of unnecessary in a drink like this though. I would suggest Old Overholt. It's $10.99 at Berbiglia.
Bourbon works fine, but I would suggest using a less sweet one like Jim Beam rather than something like Knob Creek.
You need two measures of whiskey, if you're into measuring. Otherwise, fill the glass about halfway (with the ice already in it).
When you order an Old Fashioned, 9 times out of 10 you will be served a drink made with Angostura bitters. The 10th time you will wonder why you're drink tastes so much better. The answer is likely that it was made with Peychaud's bitters.
Peychaud's is essentially the same thing as Angostura, but it is a little sweeter, a little more flowery and a beautiful red color. You wouldn't want to use Peychaud's in some drinks that call for bitters because of these differences, but in an Old Fashioned they are perfection. Two dashes of bitters do the trick.
To make the drink:
1. Put the simple syrup and the fruit in the glass and muddle.
2. Add the ice (seriously, lots of it).
3. Add the whiskey.
4. Add the bitters.
5. Add a splash of water (I understand that it doesn't make sense, but seems to help blend everything together to me).
6. NEVER EVER TOP THE DRINK OFF WITH CLUB SODA. The worst Old Fashioned's in the world are made with club soda. It turns a wonderful drink into a fizzy, whiskey flavored soft drink.
7. Stir it all together.
Now if you are someone who thinks I have horribly botched the making of an Old Fashioned, you are welcome to leave your suggestions in comments. I promise I will look at them briefly before continuing to make the drink exactly the same way described above.