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The Old Fashioned Cocktail: The Topic


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#1 maggiethecat

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 02:42 PM

A noble drink. A classic drink. One beloved by little old ladies and two-fisted drinkers alike. And two-fisted little old lady drinkers.

How do you make yours? Garnish? How much bitters? Etc.

And which Bourbon?

(I will remain mum on my bourbon choices for awhile, after the pasting I got on the "Best Gin for Martinis" thread. :biggrin:

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#2 Ron Johnson

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 02:53 PM

Muddle one orange slice, one maraschino cherry, one teaspoon of super-fine sugar, a splash of bitters, and a splash of bourbon in the bottom of a highball glass until juicy. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add two parts bourbon to one part water and stir. never, ever, use soda water. garnish with half orange slice.


Preferred bourbons for Old Fashioneds:

Maker's Mark
Old Forester
Booker's
Knob Creek
Baker's
Woodford Reserve (pssst. its Old Forester too! just cost more)

#3 maggiethecat

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 02:56 PM

never, ever, use soda water. garnish with half orange slice.


Ron, is this standard procedure, or personal preference?

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#4 Ron Johnson

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 02:57 PM

In Kentucky this is standard procedure, but I have heard that in other locales it is done. The horror! :shock:

#5 StephenT

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 02:01 AM

I enjoy these, but not having a vast variety of bourbons at my disposal I've only tried Maker's Mark and Wild Turkey. I enjoy the muddling almost as much as the drinking. If I'm making drinks for people at my place I often make and serve all of their drinks and then sit muddling my Old Fashioned while they're already drinking. It usually takes me a while as I tend to drop a normal sugar cube into the glass and soak it in bitters. I like lots of bitters. It's never crossed my mind to add soda.

The glass I use is... an old fashioned glass!

#6 Ron Johnson

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 06:28 AM

The glass I use is... an old fashioned glass!

LOL. Yeah, we call them that too. I just thought more people here would be familiar with highball. :wink:

#7 stellabella

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 06:52 AM

every time i order an old fashioned before dinner i get something watery and acrid. i can't understand why bartenders can't make a good old-fashioned. is it too labor intensive?

and why has so much ritualistic drinking emerged from kentucky? the mint julep even has its own "cup"--a high-sided silver tumbler. this must be the legacy of our friends the Victorians.

#8 Ron Johnson

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 07:10 AM

and why has so much ritualistic drinking emerged from kentucky?  the mint julep even has its own "cup"--a high-sided silver tumbler.  this must be the legacy of our friends the Victorians.

The father of one of my childhood friends is a silversmith and he is well known for his Julep cups. I think he gave some to the Queen when she was here a while back to check out the horses around Lexington.
They are awesome cups, but too expensive for me.

As for the ritualistic drinking, we gotta do something to make it interesting. Have you ever seen how much bourbon we make here?

#9 ronfland

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 07:50 AM

I'm with Ron Johnson all the way - with one "horrific" exception - I do the splash of soda on the top. Old habits are hard to break. Preferred bourbons are Maker's and Knob's.

#10 bigbear

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 08:04 AM

Maker's Mark. It also makes an excellent Manhattan.

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#11 pogophiles

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Posted 20 February 2003 - 09:45 PM

I think that lighter-bodied whiskeys make better Old Fashioned's. I tend to use Maker's Mark, Jim Beam or even rye whiskey. In my opinion, higher end bourbons (Knob Creek, Booker's, Woodford Reserve, etc..) are best drunk neat -- to me their superior flavors are somewhat wasted when used to make a cocktail...
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#12 Ron Johnson

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Posted 21 February 2003 - 06:27 AM

I think Maker's Mark is as good, if not better, than most of the so-called higher-end bourbons. It is essentially a "small-batch" bourbon, but Bill Samuels doesn't go out of his way to publicize that fact.
For me the most important factor is that the bourbon has to be full-bodied and assertive enough to give the drink a "bourbon" flavor in spite of the addition of the other flavors. That is why I would never use something like Basil Haydens or IW Harper, both of which are milder and meant to be drunk neat or with a little ice on a summer evening.

#13 jess mebane

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 05:50 PM

and why has so much ritualistic drinking emerged from kentucky?

seriously? The mind begins to swim . . . I know she has been in the South for some time, surely a renegade Kentuckian has made it to the Georgia state line, to pick up a new set of tooth at the very least. STELLA!

#14 Holly Moore

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 05:58 PM

Long ago I used to hit the Top of the Sixes whenever I was in New York. The first visit was during the hotel school senior trip. We were introduced to the Wheeler Special Old Fashioned (at least I think it was the Wheeler Special, named for the manager at the time). What made it special, Scotch instead of Rye or Bourbon. Was quite good... I still order a scotch old fashioned on occasion.

BTW, is there still a Top of the Sixes? Still owned by Stouffers? If so, any good?

Edit: I went in to change "Old Fashioned" to "Old Fashion. Then I saw the topic heading. Is it an Old Fashioned or an Old Fashion? Any idea the origin of the name?
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#15 awbrig

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 07:15 PM

My Mother used to drink, until recently, Bourbon Manhattens and Bourbon Old Fashioneds...They were very popular in Milwaukee during the "Hey Day' - and are actually still relatively quite popular in Milwaukee... :smile:

She tried ordering one at Charlie Trotters her first time there about 5 years ago and it was the funniest scene :laugh: when she found out that they do not serve Bourbon Old Fashioneds...

#16 Marlene

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 07:24 PM

Long ago I used to hit the Top of the Sixes whenever I was in New York.  The first visit was during the hotel school senior trip.  We were introduced to the Wheeler Special Old Fashioned (at least I think it was the Wheeler Special, named for the manager at the time).  What made it special, Scotch instead of Rye or Bourbon.  Was quite good... I still order a scotch old fashioned on occasion.

BTW, is there still a Top of the Sixes?  Still owned by Stouffers?  If so, any good?

Edit:  I went in to change "Old Fashioned" to "Old Fashion.  Then I saw the topic heading.  Is it an Old Fashioned or an Old Fashion?  Any idea the origin of the name?

My Mr. Bostom Official Bartender's Guide lists it as Old Fashioned. I have no idea of the origin of the name
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#17 Ron Johnson

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 07:13 AM

I still order a scotch old fashioned on occasion.

Scotch Old Fashioned? :shock: :blink:

Oh Holly, say it ain't so. :unsure:

#18 Holly Moore

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 08:48 AM

I still order a scotch old fashioned on occasion.

Scotch Old Fashioned? :shock: :blink:

Oh Holly, say it ain't so. :unsure:

Tis so. Give it a try.

Hmmmm. Time to venture further; dare I suggest a scotch and tonic, a scoth bloody mary, a scotch manhattan? Nah, I'll just have a Rob Roy.
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#19 Ron Johnson

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 09:02 AM

Tis so.  Give it a try.

Hmmmm.  Time to venture further; dare I suggest a scotch and tonic, a scoth bloody mary, a scotch manhattan?  Nah, I'll just have a Rob Roy.

I shall, but I just can't imagine scotch with sugar, orange, and cherries.

Now a Rob Roy I have had, but its not quite as extreme. :wink:

#20 varicose veins

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 07:20 PM

Admin: Posts moved over from the Drinks! thread.

Hey guys, quick post here from England...

I'm noticing you guys are very into your whiskeys and maraschino liqeuers which is pretty cool...

But I did notice someone slate vodka old fashioneds way way back in this thread? I beg to differ. On the whole, I'm definetely a gin girl, I always disliked vodka for its lack of character and flavour, but some of the more modern vodkas are amazing, in particluar, Belvedere deserves a mention. I recently did a mixology competition for them using their new flavours. I'm not sure if they're available with you guys yet, but they are well worth checkin out. They have a cytrus vodka made with lemon and lime peel which is very delicate and balanced, but the winner for me is Belvedere Pomerancza - orange flavoured but very different to most people's perceptions. It uses orange blossom to create a really light orange flavour, so amazing that I used it to make an old fashioned with some demerara sugar, dash hoppe orange bitters, fresh mint and double shot of Belvedere Pomerancza. I have tasted and made many old fashioned in my time, gin, rum, whiskey, cognac, but this one is my all time fave. Check it out!

#21 ThinkingBartender

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 08:57 PM

I think that the problem here is that you don't have the remotest clue of what an Old-Fashioned actually is. The mixture you listed sounds more like a Mint Sling, though I am sure someone else could probably categorise what exactly it is you listed.

For a look at what an Old-Fashioned really is look through these links:

http://wiki.webtende...i/Old-Fashioned
http://wiki.webtende...shioned_Recipes
http://www.drinkboy....OldFashion.html


I believe it was me that cussed the rather ridiculous notion of a Vodka Old-Fashioned; For good reason. Also, the fact that bartenders are using Maraschino liqueur so much is down to internet forums like egullet, drinkboy, and Webtender; Otherwise that stuff would just be gathering dust in the storeroom.

Also, hoppe orange bitters aren't real orange bitters, they are a type of Dutch Snaps (try a shot or two).


Cheers!

George

#22 varicose veins

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 09:23 AM

Ouch! Harsh words. A couple of notes in my defense. I am well aware that the whiskey community is among the most conservative and discerning drinking forces around, and for such reasons I never mess around with a traditional whiskey old fashioned. Countless times I have been tested, and the vast majority of my customers come back for more and to thank me for the best old fashioned they've ever had.

In making a vodka old fashioned, I was merely using the old fashioned method and applying it to a different spirit, and true adding some mint, perhaps not making me such a serious minded person. For me, the old fashioned method is a fantastic way to showcase a spirit, a touch of sweetness and a little water take out some of the alcohol's burn, still retains a bite but allows the drinker to experience much more the spirit's characteristics. Is this such a bad thing?

They say that the old fashioned is a good test of a bartender and a reflection of their art, I feel that my use of the old fashioned sums me up perfectly. I respect that a classic is a classic for a reason, and as such, it is absolutely none of my business to try to change years of tradition. However, I also consider myself to be progressive and creative, and if that calls for using such a marvellous technique to create a drink for the vodka-loving customer in front of me, well then so be it. Oh, and I used Hoppe because Angostura threw the balance of the vodka drink, I'm aware of the difference in taste and used this knowledge accordingly...

A mixologist should be able to recreate any classic correctly, but mixology also needs to move forward to prevent becoming stagnant. It should cater to each customer individually, rather than splitting hairs over which type of whiskey was used in the very first old fashioned, I would adjust the type of whiskey I use to the palate of the customer I am serving and to their particular mood that day.

Perhaps my ideas of mixology are not quite sophisticated enough for some, but I have very happy, satisfied customers who come back time and time again.

Despite the criticism, it's good to get an opinion from someone who takes their drinking seriously.

Lucinda

#23 ThinkingBartender

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 10:42 AM

Ouch! Harsh words. A couple of notes in my defense. I am well aware that the whiskey community is among the most conservative and discerning drinking forces around, and for such reasons I never mess around with a traditional whiskey old fashioned. Countless times I have been tested, and the vast majority of my customers come back for more and to thank me for the best old fashioned they've ever had.


I think that every bartender, unless they are really bad, regularly get some customers coming up raving about how they are the best bartender in the entire universe, and that their drinks are the best they have ever, ever tasted.


In making a vodka old fashioned, I was merely using the old fashioned method and applying it to a different spirit, and true adding some mint, perhaps not making me such a serious minded person. For me, the old fashioned method is a fantastic way to showcase a spirit, a touch of sweetness and a little water take out some of the alcohol's burn, still retains a bite but allows the drinker to experience much more the spirit's characteristics. Is this such a bad thing?



By old-fashioned method, I assume you mean the Dick Bradsell method; ice, stir, booze, stir, ice, stir, booze, stir, ice, stir. This is not the authentic way of making an old-fashioned, but try finding an English mixologist/ bartender who doesn't do it.

Rum Old-fashioned were last years favourite, amongst the Rum-heads anyway.


They say that the old fashioned is a good test of a bartender and a reflection of their art, I feel that my use of the old fashioned sums me up perfectly. I respect that a classic is a classic for a reason, and as such, it is absolutely none of my business to try to change years of tradition. However, I also consider myself to be progressive and creative, and if that calls for using such a marvellous technique to create a drink for the vodka-loving customer in front of me, well then so be it. Oh, and I used Hoppe because Angostura threw the balance of the vodka drink, I'm aware of the difference in taste and used this knowledge accordingly...


This would be more valid if there were more customers around who could put them to the test. Most London bartenders are too young to appreciate good whiskey, American or otherwise, and so to expect them to make a good Old-Fashioned is not always wise.

No, I said that Hoppe wasn't real orange bitters, nothing to do with the balance. If you didn't want bitterness, then you could have just used curacao, as a lot of old whiskey cocktail recipes call for.

If you are really progressive and creative, then ask yourself this, what is it you are doing when you stir and stir and stir ice? Dilution, over dilution in most cases.

If you got a mixing glass and and prepared a Manhattan (sweet) using the same "stir, stir, stir" method as you employ in the Old Fashioned, you will end up with a drink that is watery, diluted etc.

The Old-Fashioned is just a bittered sling, so why not just splash in some still mineral water instead of wearing down the ice by continuously stirring and melting it.


A mixologist should be able to recreate any classic correctly, but mixology also needs to move forward to prevent becoming stagnant. It should cater to each customer individually, rather than splitting hairs over which type of whiskey was used in the very first old fashioned, I would adjust the type of whiskey I use to the palate of the customer I am serving and to their particular mood that day.


I don't think anyone mentioned the first old-fashioned, I was merely pointing out the bad idea of vodka in an Old-fashioned, and also that your vodka old-fashioned with mint is not an Old-Fashioned.


Perhaps my ideas of mixology are not quite sophisticated enough for some, but I have very happy, satisfied customers who come back time and time again.


Every bartender has very happy, satisfied customers; this is part of the job, otherwise the manager will hire someone else. Bars can get more customers, and make more money by dumbing down their drinks to suit the lowest common denominator.

We, as mixologists, are a reaction against this tide of "commerical interest" and "lowest common denomination"; we mix as an artistic endeavour, otherwise we may as well pull pints.

I hope that this didn't come across as snooty, but I have a hard time as it is standing up for vodka (especially around this forum!-).

And by the way there is nothing wrong with your drink (the mint, orange bitter, pomeranzca vodka one), it just needed to be called something else (for historical purposes).


Cheers!

George

#24 phlip

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 10:24 AM

Please for the sake of all that tastes good can we please never mention vodka and an old fashion in the same sentence ever again after this one. Whats next a kettle one sazerac. Just gouge my eyes out with a bar spoon I wish to read no more. What hit the spot last night? A George T Stagg old fashion. Thats right some 130 proof bourbon. I.E. something that belongs in an old fashion.
Please note: an old fashion is something that softens and features a booze.(end of sentence) Vodka tastes like nothing so there is nothing to feature or showcase. Why bother with biters, sugar, and bartendered loving care. Just shake the shit out of it and drink down the sooner the better its gone.

#25 slkinsey

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 02:02 PM

Some interesting/relevant posts I remembered from a thread on muddling:

There are times when muddling makes sense and times when it doesn't, I suppose. 

There is not much to be gained from muddling a sugar sube with bitters, if that's all you do, compared to simply combining the bitters and the appropriate amount of simple syrup.  However, if you muddle the bitters and the sugar sugar cube together with a fat slice of lemon zest and "abrade" the surface of the zest against the sugar grains, you will extract flavors that are simply not possible with an aggressive twisting of the lemon peel.  Try it and see.


There is not much to be gained from muddling a sugar sube with bitters, if that's all you do, compared to simply combining the bitters and the appropriate amount of simple syrup.

While I would perforce have to agree with this from a strictly gustatory point of view, I think that there's another perspective that some might want to take into account.

The Old-Fashioned, the drink being referred to here, is the world's first retro cocktail--an 1890s reaction to the gussification of the cocktail. At the time, to make a "standard" whiskey cocktail, if there was such a thing, a bartender would've filled a large bar glass with a mess of fine ice, dashed some simple syrup and some bitters into it out of little bottles with squirt tops, added a "gigger" of liquor (most likely bourbon or rye) and as often as not a dash of absinthe, stirred the whole thing or shaken it depending upon his doctrinaire preference, strained it into a fancy stemmed glass and applied the lemon peel to it (sometimes there was also a cherry, or a pickled walnut, or what-have-you).

Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this. But it's not the way old-timers had learned to take their cocktails, back in the days of Andrew Jackson, when the barkeeper produced a cocktail by taking a small tumbler, placing a lump of sugar in it, adding a little water and crushing the sugar with a "toddy-stick" (basically, a slimmer version of our muddler; it could be made of hardwood, silver or even--at the El Dorado, in Gold-Rush San Francisco--of solid gold). Once the sugar was crushed, he would dash in some bitters from of a bottle fitted out with a cork with a length of goose quill thrust through it, pour in a tot of liquor (as often as not, brandy) and add a large lump of ice hacked from the block behind the bar. If it was a fancy cocktail, he might splash a little "curacoa" in it, twist a swatch of lemon peel over the top and rub it around the rim.

So the Old-Fashioned was an automobile-age look back to the days when railroads were a dangerous novelty; when Indians still roamed east of the Mississippi; when the best restaurants served roast bear and the passenger pigeon was a popular game bird; when barrooms were alive with "the merry raps of the toddy-stick." It's a liquid plea for a saner, quieter, slower life, one in which a gent can take a drink or two without fear that it will impair his ability to dodge a streetcar or operate a rotary press.

That's why I like to muddle my sugar cube when I make an Old Fashioned.


Great post, Dave.  There is definitely something to said for the entire ritual that goes into making a cocktail, and the Old Fashioned is one where it comprises a signifncant part of the process.  I had an OF sitting at the bar at Milk & Honey a few weeks ago -- stirred with one big lump of ice cut from the block, with the twist cut to order and trimmed of pith, sugar and bitters muddled, etc.  It took a long time to make, and watching the process was just as good as enjoying the drink.


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#26 slkinsey

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 02:09 PM

Reading above, although rye whiskey is my choice of spirit for an Old Fashioned, I'm not sure I agree that whiskey is the only legitimate choice for something called an Old Fashioned. I've always understood, anyway, that it was called the Whiskey Old Fashioned, implying that there could be other Old Fashioned cocktails made with other base spirits.

My idea of an old fashioned is: base spirit, sugar, bitters, ice (and usually a twist or two). No soda. No muddled fruit. No cherry. I've had a few Gin Old Fashioneds I really enjoyed.
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#27 Nathan

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 02:56 PM

that's my understanding as well.

although, as noted above, vodka hardly qualifies as a base spirit in the OF.

and keep the fruit out!

I'm not hardcore opposed to a splash of soda water...it won't kill it, it's just unnecessary.

#28 slkinsey

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 03:03 PM

I'm not hardcore opposed to a splash of soda water...it won't kill it, it's just unnecessary.

Good Lord, you pantywaist! Yes. It. Will. :wink:
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#29 eje

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 03:25 PM

As others have pointed out, any base spirit could be used to make an old-fashion(ed), including vodka. Just don't think plain vodka would be very interesting. YMMV.

To me the flavored vodka cocktail varicose veins mentioned doesn't qualify as an old-fashioned, not because it is made with vodka; but, because it has mint.

To me, that makes it more like a Smash.

Though, I've heard those Belvedere flavored vodkas are the best of the bunch.

Used to enjoy a bit of orange peel muddled in my old-fashioneds. Have since reconsidered that position and developed a predilection for the more traditional version.

It's always interesting to order one in a bar and see what you get.
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#30 ThinkingBartender

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 03:29 PM

It's always interesting to order one in a bar and see what you get.

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Maybe you should just take some dice into a bar, roll them and see what you get. Cocktail Roulette.