I’ve been thinking for a while about the good old days, those days well before my birth when good people got together at 5 p.m. and had a good, stiff cocktail. I think we need to bring that back. I think it’s important to sit and talk and discuss and cheer one another on through times good and bad. In that light, here’s one of my favorite cocktails, the Old Fashioned, and its best friend The Manhattan.
Now I suppose that there are folks out there that don’t like bourbon and bitters and orange and cherry, and to you I say good riddance. This is not a drink for you, and there is no room for you at my shag-rugged-turtlenecked-wooden-globe-that-hides-a-bar event. So maybe rethink things a bit, and give it a try. It might even put hair on your chest. It certainly puts a growl in my Mrs.’ voice.
It’s a quick recipe, so easy in fact that I add additional things to it, because I like the way they taste all together, and so I call it the Perfect Old Fashioned. And it makes a pretty great Manhattan too
Here’s what you need:
- One single old fashioned glass. That’s about a 9 oz glass. I like to drink out of a fancy Waterford glass. You don’t need to do that.
- One raw sugar cube. I have those raw sugar packets, and use one of those.
- One round slice of orange. I cut an orange in half, and then slice a whole round slice from it, about 1/4 inch thick.
- A muddling spoon. Any flat bottomed object that you can use to beat up that orange slice, until it gives up its goods.
- A long stirring spoon. Ideally, you want one that has a small spoon on the end. You can also use a chopstick.
- Two dashes of Angostura Bitters.
- Two dashes of Orange Bitters. I use Fee Brothers, but folks like to debate such things and if you like a different brand, well, it’s your drink.
- One large ice ball. I bought these ice molds on Amazon and they have about a 3″ diameter. They just fit into the glass. You only need one.
- Two ounces bourbon. Since I live in Arkansas, I’ll tell you that it doesn’t much matter if it comes from Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas or any other fine state. Just make sure it’s bourbon, which means it is at least 51% corn, and aged in charred new oak barrels. I like bourbon that falls between 3 and 12 years. Anything older than that and I’m just going to cradle its gentle spirit alone in a crystal glass and think on things a bit. It’s also great with Rye. Your choice.
- One Amarena Fabbri cherry. Get yourself up on Amazon or out to your favorite Italian grocery. Don’t buy anything else. Save up if you have to. It’s worth it.
Here’s what you do:
- Take that slice of orange and drop it into the bottom of your glass. Pound at the fruit and the peel enough to release its flavor into the glass.
- Add the raw sugar packet and both bitters, two drops of each. Use the muddling spoon to beat the sugar into the orange peel and bitters. That should take about ten seconds.
- Add in your ice ball.
- Add your two ounces of fine bourbon or rye. (Why in this order? If you drop the ice ball after you add the bourbon, you’ll end up losing half your bourbon to the counter.)
- This is the tricky part. Take your long spoon or chopstick and stir in one direction. That is sufficient to mix up the cocktail, not water it down with too much ice, and not spill anything on your counter.
- Add in your Amarena Fabbri cherry.
- if you’re making a Manhattan, add in 2 ounces of vermouth. I like Antica Formula the best.
Now go and find a good spot to sit a spell, and if you made one for a friend, tell some stories between you. And don’t forget to raise your glass to President Taft, who established those bourbon laws.