It was the TV Series Mad Men, Don Draper’s drink of choice throughout the 50’s and it has swung in and out of fashion over the last 150 years or so but the Old Fashioned is as classic a cocktail as they come.
Cocktails were invented in the 1800’s and they were made using four simple ingredients (not so now-a-days) sugar, bitter, water and alcohol and it is said that the first Old Fashioned was a Bourbon whiskey cocktail first made at the Pendennis Club, in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe was said to have been invented by a bartender at that club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.
Now Old Fashioned cocktails are made the world over and I got the chance to make my own thanks to Glen Moray Whisky and Worlds Best Spirits, Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison, who helped navigate us through the history and the art of the Old Fashioned.
Glen Moray produces single malt whiskies which have been distilled on the banks of the River Lossie since 1897, just outside Elgin, one of Scotland’s oldest towns.
We tried out different whiskies:
- Classic Single Malt – very malty, aromas of butterscotch and shortbread with herbal grassy notes. You can taste malty toffee sweetness with blackcurrant and a fragrant lemongrass citrus; and to finish, ginger marmalade.
- Classic Sherry Cask Finish – on the nose you’ll pick up cinnamon and toffee candy whilst on the palate sweet vanilla oak and dark chocolate. The finish comes with a tingle of spice.
- Classic Peated Single Malt – the first thing that hits you is the peaty smokiness on the nose but it’s lightly spiced with creamy vanilla to the taste. The finish is long, sweet and spicy.
- Classic Port Cask Finish – you’ll smell toasted vanilla and some dried fruits but it has a citrus lemon tang with some caramel and cinnamon.
My whisky of choice was the Classic Single Malt and I used this to make my first Old Fashioned. and here’s how I made it ….
Take one rocks glass and add one cocktail spoonful of your choice of ‘sugar’. This can be brown sugar, demerara sugar, agave syrup etc. I choose demerara sugar.
Add a wee bit of water or whisky to the glass; start to muddle. Use the flat end of the cocktail spoon to really mix the sugar and the liquid together.
Add in your choice of bitter. There are so many on the market at the moment like this Black Walnut Bitters which is very intense and robust.
Mozart Chocolate bitters, you only need one or two drops to flavour a cocktail.
Jerry Thomas Bitter Truth, Own Decanter – high quality bitters with flavours of clove, cinnamon and spices.
Bob’s Bitters, ginger. Warm and spicy with peppery undertones. My favourite.
Bitter Truth, Orange Bitters. Perfect for a Christmas flavoured Old Fashioned.
Adding Ginger bitters to my mix – a couple of drops was sufficient.
Then add the ice and give it a good long stir until some of the ice starts to melt. Ice is a very important ingredient here. It needs to be good quality ice as it will be providing the mixer for your Old Fashioned. We used ice from Edinburgh Ice Company.
Select your whisky.
Add it to the glass, top it up with ice if needed and keep stirring. A good Old Fashioned should take no less than 8 minutes to make (or so they tell me!).
To garnish or not to garnish is the question. Some do, some don’t. For me it’s down to your own personal preference. Add some orange peel, fold it in half, twist and squeeze, then drop it into the glass.
Some Old Fashioned aren’t considered complete if they don’t come with a cherry.
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co does exceptionally wonderful cocktail cherries.
And here is my first Old Fashioned. Very very drinkable and I am sure one that Don Draper would easily have sipped at his desk.
I ended up making two Old Fashioned Cocktails. My second one was more Christmassy using the Sherry Cask whisky, orange bitters, chocolate bitters and Own Decanter bitter with a taste of cloves. Both equality delicious but I doubt I’d be able to make them the same cocktials again as I didn’t follow a recipe/
Here is a very simple classic Old Fashioned recipe to follow:
- In a rocks glass, muddle one white sugar cube, 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and 1 teaspoon of water until smooth.
- Add more cubed ice and pour over 50ml Glen Moray Elgin Classic Single Malt Whisky.
- Continue to stir, diluting the drink, adding more ice, until the sugar has fully dissolved and your cocktail is perfectly balanced.
- Garnish with a twist of orange zest expressed over the glass and two cocktail cherries
Glen Moray Elgin Classic Single Malt Whisky is available from: Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, The Co-Op, masterofmalt.com, thewhiskyexchange.com and specialist whisky retailers. RRP: £20 ABV: 40% www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/glen-moray-malt-whisky-70cl
Glen Moray Elgin Classic Port Cask Finish Single Malt Whisky is available from: Amazon, majestic.co.uk, masterofmalt.com and thewhiskyexchange.com RRP: £25 for 70cl ABV: 40%