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maggiethecat

The Old Fashioned Cocktail: The Topic

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Its interesting, when you go into many small town local bars, when you ask for an OF, they respond, "Sweet or Sour?" 

When I first moved here to Madison WI, I had no idea what that meant until someone told me it's the choice between soda water or Sprite to fill up the glass. I used to drink a lot of these before I really got into mixing drinks myself. It's cool though that there's still the vestiges of a cocktail culture surrounding this drink here even if the advances of the past few years haven't quite made their way this far yet, leaving us in the dark ages for the most part.

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Heh, yeah. When I was in school there we used to go to a place called the Living Room (its something else now - they put tv's in! :cry:)and get the muddled fruit salad variety. They may not be "authentic" but I sure found them to do the trick.

I'm actually kind of surprised someone hasn't opened a real deal cocktail place there yet. Seems ripe for it.

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Heh, yeah.  When I was in school there we used to go to a place called the Living Room (its something else now - they put tv's in! :cry:)and get the muddled fruit salad variety.  They may not be "authentic" but I sure found them to do the trick.

I'm actually kind of surprised someone hasn't opened a real deal cocktail place there yet.  Seems ripe for it.

The authenticity question's interesting because since there is a continuous tradition, the drink has really developed on it's own almost out here in isolation. I've tried to talk to people about the OF and they freaked out when I said I didn't muddle any fruit--that's the thing that makes it an OF for them. These two drinks have different objectives (one to highlight the character of the whiskey that we'd call "authentic" and the fruit salad one). There's actually a place here called The Old Fashioned that has five different kinds of WI OF made with different base spirits (brandy, bourbon, Clement creole shrubb, applejack, and gin).

I'd be interested to see a cocktail place here, but you'd have to make some serious inroads into beer culture. You can go anywhere and get really good beer here so that's what most people drink.

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I still don't understand where the muddling the fruit comes into the Old-Fashioned.

I get them all the time at bars and restaurants in Wausau, WI and points North.

They look exactly like this:

gallery_27569_3448_88553.jpg

"Rye Old Fashioned, Water", at Norwood Pines Supper Club, Minocqua, Wisconsin.

Is it a Southern Wisconsin thing?


Edited by eje (log)

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The Old Fascist is where my mind went after reading the Imbibe article about brandy old fashioneds in Wisconsin. I had no idea that was the tradition there. Since my current place of employ features Spanish wines and foods as part of the menu, switching up for the Jerez brandy seemed an easy enough thing to make the drink thematically appropriate and sort of our own. The name was just an added bonus from hanging out with folks that have a twisted sense of humor. :biggrin:

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Oh, I didn't mean to single out the Old Fascist specifically, Katie.

Sounds like it should be a popular drink, and glad to see Brandy Old-Fashioneds on the menu in places other than Wisconsin, muddling or no. It's a good cocktail.

I meant more historically and geographically.

It does seem like the muddled old-fashionds are more popular in the Southern part of Wisconsin than in the Central and Northern parts of the state.

Heh, someone should start a photo blog about Wisconsin Old-Fashioneds and the taverns, restaurants, and bars they are served in.

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I spent four years in Wisconsin for grad school, and the Brandy Old-Fashioneds there were awe-inspiring. There's a representative recipe in the Sept 2006 issue of Saveur, in an article by Daphne Beal on the hallowed Milwaukee fish fry. (Great cole slaw recipe there, too.)

First you make a mix using a 1:1 simple (1c each of water and sugar) and 5 T of Angostura. To assemble, fill an OF glass with ice and then add:

2 oz brandy (Korbel or J. Bavet)

1 oz mix

2 additional dashes Angostura

Stir, garnish with the cherry/orange spear, and top with 1/2 c 7 Up. Yes, you read that right.

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Erik:

I was actually replying to Matt, and should have quoted him to make that clear. Sorry for the confusion.

I am certainly thrilled to bring an iteration of the brandy old fashioned to Philly. It is a delicious drink, even the test one I made with regular brandy before swapping it out for the Jerez. Whether and which parts of Wisconsin muddle is totally moot to me, having not ever had the pleasure of visiting there yet. I always thought the muddling was crucial to the end result. I've never seen a not muddled Old Fashioned, but perhaps that's an East Coast thing? :unsure:


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

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There's actually a place here called The Old Fashioned that has five different kinds of WI OF made with different base spirits (brandy, bourbon, Clement creole shrubb, applejack, and gin).

Wouldn't a Creole Shrubb-based Old Fashioned be ridiculously sweet?

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The Old Fascist is where my mind went after reading the Imbibe article about brandy old fashioneds in Wisconsin.  I had no idea that was the tradition there.  Since my current place of employ features Spanish wines and foods as part of the menu, switching up for the Jerez brandy seemed an easy enough thing to make the drink thematically appropriate and sort of our own.  The name was just an added bonus from hanging out with folks that have a twisted sense of humor.  :biggrin:

Well, I think its a great name and sounds delicious. Kudos.

I don't have strong feelings for or against the muddling. I say go for it either/both ways. And while serb hall doesn't muddle, I bet someone will say that some great supper club somewhere does. Tomato, Tomahto :D

This weekend, I made an OF with gin and muddled orange peel. It was great. Love angostura and gin.

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Ever since Dave the Cook (and Eric Felten over at the WSJ) turned me on to the Omar Bradley, I've been intrigued. The inherent complexity of a good orange marmalade is a swell foil for the liquor (bourbon in particular), and it's a drink that demands a taste or two to adjust sweetness or another element. Here's the base recipe with my tweaks:

3 oz bourbon (Wild Turkey 101)

1 heaping tsp bitter orange marmalade

1 squeeze fresh lemon juice (go easy)

1 dash simple syrup (if the marmalade is truly bitter)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake, strain and sieve, cherry if you're feeling the need.

Tonight I realized that the marmalade I have had crystallized, so I created an Omar Bradley base, adding to the jar some simple and a bunch of bitters plus a bit of booze to the jar and shaking hard. It's weird and good.

Hmm, I'm suddenly thinking of making one of these, but subbing in some Asian honey-lemon tea mix, which is rather like a tart, lemon-peel marmalade. Have you tried this with rye instead of bourbon?

Interesting . . . .

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[

Hmm, I'm suddenly thinking of making one of these, but subbing in some Asian honey-lemon tea mix, which is rather like a tart, lemon-peel marmalade.  Have you tried this with rye instead of bourbon?

Interesting . . . .

funny i just saw this stuff(the asian tea mix) in my grocery market the other day , and thought of using it for this type of drink, i have made something similar using Citron-Honey from Trader Joes and one with a combo of orange marmalade and english grapefruit marmalade...i think i got the original recipe from Food and Wine a few years ago

I have used both rye and bourbon, and i like both (but thats just me)

shanty

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During my formative years cocktail hour always arrived after my father arrived home on the Erie-Lackawana. He usually had scotch on the rocks. My mother what she considered to be an old fashioned. Her recipe - maybe a tsp of a good quality British orange marmalade and a couple of spurts of bitters muddled together. Then a very generous shot of rye, ice to fill, and a splash or water.

Incidentally, for some reason I now remember that the scotch old fashioned served at the Top of the Sixes in the late 60's was called a Wheeler Special created by and named for the then manager. A round of Wheeler Specials was the cocktail stop for the Cornell Hotel School senior class trip - a day that started at 5 AM with breakfast at Sloppy Louie's and a tour of the fulton fish market, after which we sojourned to Jersey to visit a slaughter house and observe the kosher kill of lambs and all that "entrails."

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Had a nice variation on the Omar using orange juice instead of lemon with Heaven Hill BIB 100 proof, which I can get in 1 liter bottles for a song around here. Dropped a few drops of Fee's Old Fashioned bitters in there too.

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Hmm, I'm suddenly thinking of making one of these, but subbing in some Asian honey-lemon tea mix, which is rather like a tart, lemon-peel marmalade.  Have you tried this with rye instead of bourbon?

Interesting . . . .

Funny you mention that - when I saw the Omar Bradley recipe the first thing I thought of was using Korean Yuzu/Honey tea. I went through a phase a couple of years ago when I was trying it out in a lot of different cocktails. For those of you without a Korean market nearby, but with a Trader Joe's, the citron honey tea that Shantytownbrown mentions is the exact same thing.

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I've been screwing around with mezcal Old Fashioneds at home, using gum syrup and Angostura. I'm a firm believer. The possibilities are endless.

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Beyond gum and ango, what are some of the other possibilities you've experimented with?

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Haven't tried Mezcal, but I enjoy a tequila old fashioned. Hibiscus and ginger syrup both work well...Angostura Orange plays nice here, as do some homemade habanero bitters.

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I learned a great trick from Archie, my favorite bartender at the Champagne Bar on the cruise I went on last May to Bermuda. Make an old fashioned mix to keep in a squeeze bottle for speedier drink making. Make a quart of 1:1 simple syrup with the peel of one orange removed with a veggie peeler (all zest - no pith) boiled into it. Strain and add 2 oz. Angostura bitters (or more to taste - I like a few dashes of Fee Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters as well. I can tell it's right from the color, I guess) and a splash of Cointreau. Use a squirt of this to muddle your fruit (or not) when making your Old Fashioneds. Makes a great instant Champagne cocktail too, and there's no overly sweet sludge at the bottom of the flute. Mixes through completely and tastes delicious from the first sip to the last. :cool: Not bad for a Faux-Zerac either, if you're lacking Peychaud's.

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Beyond gum and ango, what are some of the other possibilities you've experimented with?

With and without the citrus; using and not using the cherries (idea: soak cherries in the mezcal...); different mezcals; agave, honey, demerara syrups; about 10 different bitters. There are a few things that didn't seem to work at all (Peychaud's, for example), and some that I'm thinking will work if only I can figure it out (an Improved Mezcal Cocktail, in particular).

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I learned a great trick from Archie, my favorite bartender at the Champagne Bar on the cruise I went on last May to Bermuda. Make an old fashioned mix to keep in a squeeze bottle for speedier drink making. Make a quart of 1:1 simple syrup with the peel of one orange removed with a veggie peeler (all zest - no pith) boiled into it. Strain and add 2 oz. Angostura bitters (or more to taste - I like a few dashes of Fee Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters as well. I can tell it's right from the color, I guess) and a splash of Cointreau. Use a squirt of this to muddle your fruit (or not) when making your Old Fashioneds. Makes a great instant Champagne cocktail too, and there's no overly sweet sludge at the bottom of the flute. Mixes through completely and tastes delicious from the first sip to the last. :cool: Not bad for a Faux-Zerac either, if you're lacking Peychaud's.

What a great idea! I got hooked on the trick that was suggested somewhere around here a while ago which involved using orange marmalade if you've got no fresh oranges on hand. I've also suggested using Wild Turkey American Honey as a quick and easy sweetener for Old Fashioneds. Your friend's idea make so much sense.

With and without the citrus; using and not using the cherries (idea: soak cherries in the mezcal...); different mezcals; agave, honey, demerara syrups; about 10 different bitters. There are a few things that didn't seem to work at all (Peychaud's, for example), and some that I'm thinking will work if only I can figure it out (an Improved Mezcal Cocktail, in particular).

Grapefruit bitters always seems to work well with tequila, but I'm not sure how it works with mezcal, or if it would be right for an Old Fashioned. Maybe I'll try it and let you know. I think for an Improved Mezcal (or Tequila) Cocktail, what we need is a lime liqueur. Why isn't there one?

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I learned a great trick from Archie, my favorite bartender at the Champagne Bar on the cruise I went on last May to Bermuda. Make an old fashioned mix to keep in a squeeze bottle for speedier drink making. Make a quart of 1:1 simple syrup with the peel of one orange removed with a veggie peeler (all zest - no pith) boiled into it. Strain and add 2 oz. Angostura bitters (or more to taste - I like a few dashes of Fee Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters as well. I can tell it's right from the color, I guess) and a splash of Cointreau. Use a squirt of this to muddle your fruit (or not) when making your Old Fashioneds. Makes a great instant Champagne cocktail too, and there's no overly sweet sludge at the bottom of the flute. Mixes through completely and tastes delicious from the first sip to the last. :cool: Not bad for a Faux-Zerac either, if you're lacking Peychaud's.

What a great idea! I got hooked on the trick that was suggested somewhere around here a while ago which involved using orange marmalade if you've got no fresh oranges on hand. I've also suggested using Wild Turkey American Honey as a quick and easy sweetener for Old Fashioneds. Your friend's idea make so much sense.

Just to be a voice for the curmudgeons here, I think the idea of having a "mix" for Old-Fashioneds sort of misses the point of the drink. It is supposed to be done the "Old Fashioned" way...there's a great rant somewhere around here from Mr. Wondrich on the subject that sums it up for me. The name refers to a time when even syrups were looked upon with suspicion by at least some of the drinkers of the day, hence most early recipes specifying loaf sugar.

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Andy:

Go ahead. Be a curmudgeon. I don't have a problem with being a purist. But sometimes when you're really weeded at the service bar at 8:30 on a Saturday night, this is helpful and efficient. And as I mentioned, it does duty for Champagne cocktails and other applications as well. For home use, perhaps not necessary, but in a high volume environment, sometimes a necessary evil. And the syrup is delicious. I'm finding new ways to play with it all the time.

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