With more than two centuries of history, it’s no surprise this classic whisky cocktail is simply known as the Old-Fashioned. This cocktail is so famous that it even has a glass named after it. An Old-Fashioned glass (alternatively known as a rocks glass) should be chilled before building the drink.
You can serve yours neat in a cocktail glass but many prefer to enjoy theirs served over a couple of ice cubes.
You’ve gone to this much trouble to make the perfect cocktail, so use the best. Neutral-flavoured, high-quality, mineral water will dilute the drink appropriately without imparting off flavours.
There’s a raw flavour that a sugar cube provides that granulated white sugar can’t. The rawer the better, so plan on opting for a roughly cut Demerara sugar cube. For a perfect Old Fashioned cocktail, you only need one.
American Rye Whiskey
Many early variations of the Old-Fashioned exist. Some called for Bourbon, others Rye Whiskey or even Brandy. In fact, before earning its name as the Old-Fashioned, the earliest forms of the drink, dating to the first years of the 19th century, were simply some of the first attempts at making cocktails. They called for a combination of any spirit, sugar, water and bitters. By the mid-19th century, people simply asked for cocktails “made the old-fashioned way.” The name stuck. By this time, the most popular spirits of the day were American whiskies such as Rye and Bourbon.
This product of Trinidad and Tobago has been available for close to 200 years and has been used in classic cocktails, such as the Old-Fashioned and Manhattan, for nearly as long. The mixture of alcohol, herbs and spices lends a distinctive fragrance to any mixed drink.
A Bar Spoon or Muddler
A bar spoon will work well, but if you want to keep your cocktail classic, use a wooden muddler to crush the bitters-infused sugar cube.
The earliest versions likely had no fruit garnish but if you insist, add a piece of orange peel.
A PASSPORT TO WHISKY COCKTAILS
Dublin – The Irish Coffee
The Irish coffee does in fact trace its history back to the Emerald Isle. It was first created shortly after the Second World War as a means of welcoming weary airplane passengers. Heat a special coffee glass with boiling water. When warm, pour out water and fill with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 1/2 ounces of Irish Whiskey and then stir. Top with hot coffee and freshly whipped cream.
Louisville – The Old-Fashioned
This is the epitome of southern sophistication. Soak a sugar cube with 2 to 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters. Top with a splash of water. Muddle, with a wooden pestle or bar spoon, until the sugar dissolves. Top with 1 1/2 ounces of Bourbon or American Rye Whiskey. Add ice and orange peel (optional).
Glasgow – The Whisky Mac
Truth be told, the Scottish like their whisky served neat. You might convince some to add a splash of water. Popular Scotch whisky-based cocktails such as the Rob Roy, Rusty Nail and the Blood and Sand were American creations. However, the Whisky Mac, with British ties, is made combining 1 ½ ounces of whisky and 1 ½ ounces of ginger wine in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir and then strain into a rocks glass, snifter or Glencairn glass.
While not of Scottish origin, this cocktail was at least created by a Colonel MacDonald, a well-known Victorian era British soldier and dignitary stationed in India. “Fighting MacDonald,” as he was nicknamed, created the drink for its medicinal properties as a way of fighting against cholera.
Toronto – Canadian Whisky Sour
Despite our rich heritage of whisky, most classic whisky based cocktails were created in the United States. The first mention of the Whisky Sour was in Wisconsin in 1870. By late 19th century, many cocktail recipes had emigrated over the border and versions using Canadian whiskies became popular in this country. Combine 1 1/2 ounces Canadian Whisky with 1/2 ounce lemon juice and 1/2 ounce simple syrup in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. To make it frothier, add an egg white (optional). Shake vigorously and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon slice and cherry.
Bulleit Bourbon, 750 ml, $37.99
Jameson Irish Whiskey, 750 ml, $33.99
Chivas Regal 12 Year Old, 750 ml, $52.99
Crown Royal Apple Whisky, 750 ml, $31.99