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How do I make a perfect old fashioned?

ouch

Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
Moderator Emeritus
Which means, of course, how do you make a perfect old fashioned?
 

Multum in parvo

Contributor
Mixing glass
a couple of dashes Bitter Truth Bogart Bitters or Fee Brothers Whisky Barrel aged Bitters
1 barspoon Dillon Sirop de Canne Roux (for Wintertime 1 1/2 Maple Syrup)
2oz Rittenhouse Rye BiB
stir
add 1 slightly crushed big ice cube
stir
strain to tumbler with a big ice cube
garnish with lemon zest and Luxardo cherry (if you do the fancy thing for guests squezze the zest over the glass first)

fun YT channel "How to drink"
 
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The classic recipe is:

2 oz bourbon
orange peel
simple syrup
splash of water
and a cherry

That said it is an infinitely customizable drink. That is part of the fun is everyone has a different interpretation of it. More water, no water, some twist and rim the orange peel, some burn it to candy it, sounds like lemon is a variation too (I'll have to try that)! Personally I like bourbon in mine, extra cherries and a touch of an artichoke aperitif called Cynar to add some complexity.

Play around, have fun, and find your mix.
 
Rye preferably. Bourbon for something sweeter in the summer.
Angostura or a more creative bitters if around.
Homemade simple syrup.
Big cube.
Citrus peel/zest. I switch between orange, lemon, and grapefruit depending on what I'm after.
No cherry ever.

Tequila or mezcal are also fun for Oaxacas. The beauty of the OF is its versatility despite being so simple. It's just liquor, bitters, sugar, ice, garnish. I love playing with both the ingredients and the ratios to fit the mood or time of year.
 
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The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
Which means, of course, how do you make a perfect old fashioned?

I am probably the wrong one to ask and I doubt whether I make one quite the same way twice in a row. And I think the question is really asking for my favorite rather than some objective perfection. :)

But I would:

dose a sugar cube, maybe a demerara or some such sugar cube, with a few drops of Angostura bitters (I suppose other bitters of an Angostura-type work); I like having some grainy sugar in the mix rather than sugar syrup

muddle in the bottom of a rocks glass with a half circle slice of orange, being very gentle if anything at all with the peel and pith, but crushing the pulp

I personally nearly always add a cherry, sometimes I muddle it with the sugar cube and orange, but after the first round of muddling the orange and sugar, and sometimes I drop it in the drink at the end, unmuddled

I must be the only person around that does not love Luxardo cherries, at least outside of an Aviation--too candied; I general soak dried Montmorency cherries in Cognac and sugar (maybe a stick of cinnamon in there, too, but probably not for this purpose), or some less grocery-store and more artisanal "maraschino" cherry, or perhaps, an Amarena cherry

2 oz or more of rye, I would say 100 proof or more, Peerless is probably my favorite, but I like Rittenhouse a lot--Whistle Pig seems better without the accessories; high proof bourbon works, too, but here we are talking perfection

add good sized pieces of clear ice chipped off a block of clear ice

stirred in the rocks glass, not shaken


But if one were being absolutely 1800s traditional, as I am sometimes, one could leave out the cherry and orange altogether, I mean, we aren't making a fruit salad here! To me an old-fashioned requires some sort of sugar or syrup, bitters, and rye or corn whiskey.

Thanks for asking!
 

TexLaw

Fussy Evil Genius
Contributor
The perfect one is the one I'm in the mood for at the time.

Typically, I'm a classic recipe guy, so I tend to stick with something like that. 2 oz. Evan Williams BiB (or a similar higher proof bourbon with rye in the grain bill--not wheat--if you only have wheated bourbon, I'll take rye), ONE sugar cube or less (depending on the proof of the bourbon) (of you use syrup, which I'd rather you didn't, 1/2 a bar spoon), 2 dashes Angostura bitters, orange peel. If you must add the cherry, don't muddle it. Rocks. Stirred.

Don't go screwing around with that without telling me first. I don't like surprises when I order a classic. You may be absolutely enthralled with free range guava bitters at the moment, but don't put it in my Old Fashioned because you think I might want to mix it up. Note the name of the drink.

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(Happy 5-0, Hammer!)
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
Want to try a good old-fashioned? As above, but use brandy rather than bourbon or rye.
The brandy old-fashioned is one of Wisconsin's gifts to mixed drink culture. The first hit I got on Google for them was something like houseofhipsters.com, so they are cool these days. The traditional brandy of choice, I read, is Korbel. I have gone out of my way to assemble the traditional ingredients for these. And such a brandy old-fashioned is okay in my book. Despite some favorable reviews that are out there, I find Korbel brandy rather sweet and unrefined, with certain raw alcohol notes, at least in the versions I have tried. I do not really object to the latter, but I prefer corn or rye based whiskies for this purpose. Folks from Wisconsin will surely disagree with me.

I have not tried a cognac in an old-fashioned. Brandy is pretty versatile. I have not reason to think it would be bad!
 
So many variations!

Last night we were out and my wife ordered a variation with Buffalo Trace, cranberry simple syrup, Angostura bitters, and a smoked glass with a Rosemary garnish, served over a big cube. It’s a nice drink, but too sweet for me.

Currently, my OF is constructed like this:
1) Angostura bitters over a Demerara sugar cube (I pick out a smallish cube.)
2) muddle the cube with enough water to dissolve it (this is the step that usually stops me at one)
3) add ice and a Luxardo cherry to the glass
4) pour 2 oz of bourbon (currently BT, but another favorite is Old Forester 100) over the ice and stir
5) express the oil from an orange peel and drop it in (I love being able to see the sheen.)

I’ll have to try Cynar one time.

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I originally learned to make the Old Fashioned many years ago from a recipe in an old Trader Vic's bartender's manual, which I believe was vintage early 1950s. I've tried many variations, most of which certainly have their merits, but I still prefer the original Trader Vic's recipe, which is also the simplest:
1 sugar cube
Angostura Bitters
1 oz water
2 oz bourbon or rye
Orange peel zest (or Angostura Orange Bitters)
1 large ice cube

Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Place several drops of Angostura Bitters onto the sugar cube; enough to saturate about 1/4 to 1/3 of the cube. At this point, if I don't have an orange on hand to peel some zest from, I add Angostura Orange Bitters, just 1 or 2 drops. Add water and muddle until the sugar is dissolved. Add whiskey and ice. If I have orange zest, then I express the strip over the glass and wipe the rim, but I don't put the peel into the drink as it adds bitterness that I don't want.

As for whiskey, I like both bourbon and rye, but nothing too fancy. Save those high end bottles for sipping neat. For rye I like Rittenhouse and George Dickel; for bourbon Wild Turkey 101 and Early Times BIB are both great but, heck, even something as basic (and cheap) as Evan Williams Black works for me. For those who like brandy in their OF, Christian Brothers Sacred Bond (the only bottled-in-bond brandy, AFAIK) is the way to go.

This is making me thirsty. Cheers!
 
The brandy old-fashioned is one of Wisconsin's gifts to mixed drink culture. The first hit I got on Google for them was something like houseofhipsters.com, so they are cool these days. The traditional brandy of choice, I read, is Korbel.
You are correct about Korbel. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Korbel Brandy Old Fashioned here in Wisconsin. It's cheap and it does the job, but the flavor of Korbel tends to overshadow the other ingredients.

Fortunately, there's several outstanding artisan brandy's being made here in Wisconsin.
 
The so called classic recipe(s) downplays water and ice, basically a sweetened slug of rye with some bitters for depth. Many newer recipes go on muddling tangents, making it almost a strong fruit punch. I like an Oscar Foxtrot that uses more water and ice to yield a drink you can nurse a good while. A scant teaspoon of turbinado sugar, several shakes of Angostura bitters, and one finger of water are stirred until the sugar is somewhat dissolved. I use demitasse spoons and leave one in each glass, Fill the glass with several pieces of ice, a Luxardo cherry, and top up with whiskey. My wife usually reaches for a very classic bourbon like Evan Williams 1783 or, if we are feeling like a splurge, Knob Creek or Booker's. I like all of those, but left to my own devices go with rye, ranging from Old Overholt, to Rittenhouse, to Peerless. Stir once more once the whiskey is added. The sugar never fully dissolves, meaning that when you top up your drink and re-stir, you are still getting an old fashioned, not a straight whiskey on the rocks, although it will be slightly more pronounced on the whiskey side than the first glass. If anyone wants fruit, which we do from time to time, a thin orange wheel is ok. Just don't muddle it. The bourbon infused wheel at the bottom of the glass is pretty tasty. Cheers!
 

ouch

Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
Moderator Emeritus
I was hoping for Chad to drop some knowledge on me. So far, I have been enjoying the cocktail made with these ingredients. 4639C17B-8AC0-426E-9937-17E7B5E0A307.jpeg E2E35548-E05B-4128-B3C9-32C9204F649D.png E2E35548-E05B-4128-B3C9-32C9204F649D.png 4639C17B-8AC0-426E-9937-17E7B5E0A307.jpeg E2E35548-E05B-4128-B3C9-32C9204F649D.png
 
The brandy old-fashioned is one of Wisconsin's gifts to mixed drink culture. The first hit I got on Google for them was something like houseofhipsters.com, so they are cool these days. The traditional brandy of choice, I read, is Korbel. I have gone out of my way to assemble the traditional ingredients for these. And such a brandy old-fashioned is okay in my book. Despite some favorable reviews that are out there, I find Korbel brandy rather sweet and unrefined, with certain raw alcohol notes, at least in the versions I have tried. I do not really object to the latter, but I prefer corn or rye based whiskies for this purpose. Folks from Wisconsin will surely disagree with me.

I have not tried a cognac in an old-fashioned. Brandy is pretty versatile. I have not reason to think it would be bad!

I couldn't agree more with your assessment of Korbel. Unrefined with raw alcohol notes. It's not really bad, but IMO the lesser of all the "mainstream" California brandies. Paul Masson is a bit doctored, but easy to like.
 

Bhugo

Contributor
I make mine with more bourbon so I only have to make one....or 2. The whiskey changes based on what I have in the decanter.

In a large short glass combine 4 oz of Wild Turkey 101, 2-3 small bar spoons of simple syrup, 4-5 dashes of bitters(often orange and any other), a high quality cherry with a bit of the syrup, a dried orange slice from Trader Joe’s, ice to fill and a good swirl with the bar spoon.

Makes me drool thinking of it. It’s my nightly treat.
 

12stones

Contributor
But I would:

dose a sugar cube, maybe a demerara or some such sugar cube, with a few drops of Angostura bitters (I suppose other bitters of an Angostura-type work); I like having some grainy sugar in the mix rather than sugar syrup

muddle in the bottom of a rocks glass with a half circle slice of orange, being very gentle if anything at all with the peel and pith, but crushing the pulp

I personally nearly always add a cherry, sometimes I muddle it with the sugar cube and orange,
This is almost exactly how I do mine except I use a full circle orange slice; just big enough to cover the bottom of the glass. I always use demerara cubes and an Amarena Toschi cherry. The only thing that changes usually is the whisky I use. Bourbon, rye, or mash depending on what I have on hand and what I feel like, though Basil Hayden is a constant performer.
 
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