Time for an Old Fashioned Cocktail

I usually have a pretty simple, straightforward approach to life.  Most of the time, I like my coffee black and my whiskey neat.  But once in a while, when life kicks you in the places you would rather not be kicked, you need to mix things up and try something a little different just to keep going.  As my wife can attest, those days usually call for a nice dirty martini (gin…stirred, not shaken; despite all those boyhood dreams, I am NOT James Bond).  Lately however, we have hit new heights and this week I decided to start mixing my version of the classic old fashioned cocktail.  This drink is typically made with some form of sugar, bitters, whiskey or bourbon, and some kind of fruit.  You can make this cocktail with most any kind of liquor you prefer, including brandy or rum, but I have my favorite (dirt cheap) bottle of rye whiskey that I think is great in this recipe.

A lot of recipes I have seen for the old fashioned call for a sugar cube to be muddled with bitters and fruit.  However, I find that using a simple syrup mixes much easier and cleanly.  The sugar is already dissolved and will mix into the drink with almost no effort at all.  You can make a plain simple syrup by mixing equal parts sugar and water and bring to a boil to combine.  However, I had the brilliant idea of adding some flavors into the syrup to start.  The orange is a key component of this cocktail, but the rosemary adds just a hint of something special and unexpected.  Now, in pursuit of getting the proportions just right, I have consumed several of these cocktails prior to writing this article, and that may be influencing my judgment.  But, I must admit that this combination of flavors is definitely spot on.  I went a touch heavy on the syrup in this recipe, but I think the additional sweetness offsets the rye whiskey nicely.  If you simply must, by all means adjust the proportions to your own liking.

Some time ago, I was swimming in this South American river and discovered these fun silicone molds to make round ice cubes, or ice balls if you prefer, and thought they sounded like fun.  With a simple click of the mouse (and a credit card number), they were promptly delivered to my home.  With a round ice cube/sphere, supposedly the ice doesn’t melt as fast a dilute your cocktail but still keeps it nice and cold.  I don’t know if that’s true or not but they are a lot of fun, and they do add something unique in the glass.

The last item of note would be the issue of the maraschino cherries.  Order an old fashioned at your local watering hole and you are likely to see these sweet artificially red looking orbs appear in your glass.  You can add them if you like and they will sweeten up this drink further, but I like the simplicity of the marmalade orange flavors with the hint of rosemary.  And with that, my glass seems to be empty again, so I will bid you good day while I go mix another old fashioned cocktail.

Orange Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Peel of 1 orange
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

Combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pan.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel thin strips of the very outer peel of the orange and add to the pan.  Add in one sprig of fresh rosemary and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Boil for just 2-3 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Let cool, then discard the orange peel and rosemary.  Transfer to a squeeze bottle or other container and store in the fridge.

Old Fashioned Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 ounces simple syrup
  • 5 dashes old fashioned aromatic bitters
  • 3 ounces rye whiskey
  • Ice ball
  • Slice of orange

Combine the simple syrup and bitters in a glass.  Add the whiskey and stir.  Drop in the ice ball (or whatever shape chunk of ice you have available).  Give the orange slice a little squeeze before you drop that in the glass.  Now you are ready to kick back and enjoy.  Come back in a little while and mix another.

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